Some of you may know that I aspire to be a writer, or at lease be better at writing, it is something I used to do when I was an emo teenager but that I forgot to nurture as I got older (along with a lot of things). Louise is a fantastic writer, really she’s very good, she wouldn’t admit to such things given how much of modest she is but it’s true; she is one of the people who truly inspire me to continue to write and develop my skills. Louise is part of a group who get together every so often to discuss their current writing projects, to get instant feedback on how things strike them, to have an audience to ask ‘did you get that bit?’ or ‘does this seem believable?’ or just to see how it sounds to someone who is not you. It also seems to involve drinking large quantities of wine.
When Louise invited me I was stoked; I was really excited to be part of a group of people who were trying to make their creative dreams reality but there was also a part of me that was terrified. I mean reading your work aloud to a real live audience (granted it was only three people) is really daunting. It’s not like blogging where your audience is completely removed from you, you get their approval when they click like or leave a nice comment but if they don’t like your stuff usually they just go away and don’t bother coming back.
There was a tiny, persistent voice in my head that said I was not good enough to read my stuff to these writers; that I was not good enough to call myself a writer; that they would all laugh at me, and not in the ‘oh yes that’s an amusing story’ way but the ‘you seriously think that’s worthwhile?’ way.
I went along anyway, terror and all, and made Louise go first, I wanted to see how the whole Write Club thing worked so I would know what sort of reaction to expect. She read some of her current project, which was darn good I must say, and we all said how fabulous it was, and gave her some impressions of what we liked and what we liked less, we gave her story ideas, and I gave her some examples from my life of people like the characters she was writing that might help her get a different angle of realism in there. I was surprised by how easy and relaxed everyone was, by how positive and encouraging the atmosphere was.
Then it was my turn. I chose to read a short story that I’d written; I had originally intended to submit the story to a writing competition but I think the deadline passed sometime between my writing it, getting a day-job and now. The story was supposed to be serious but the voice of the main character was quite silly. I was shaking as I read it aloud; I could feel myself racing over the words and hoped they could take it in even though I was going 100 miles a minute. I got to the end, which admittedly I was not happy about and the story turned sort of dark. The feedback was that the ending definitely wasn’t the right mood, and Louise suggested that I make it more comedic. Everyone laughed at the voice of the main character, and I had written her to be this ridiculous caricature so that worked well, I didn’t realise how funny I was until I had a (small) room full of people laughing at stuff I’d written. We talked about how I could rework the short story; changing the ending, or perhaps redrafting the whole thing from scratch and I felt quite energised.
To be honest, I don’t like the editing process. I have always been a writer who blurts things out, gives it a cursory look over for spelling mistakes and then doesn’t think about it again. I think this is something I need to work on. Louise for example works very differently; she finds getting something out hard, but editing easy, while I find writing easy but editing hard.
Later I read two poems that I had written a few days before I went to Sydney; I had written them after a particularly excellent afternoon of losing myself in my favourite musical artists at home in my bedroom and I was feeling some of their genius flowing through my fingers. Obviously I was not coming up with stuff as great as my idols, but I thought it was quite good. I got some really great feedback for the poems, and not too many editing suggestions, so I felt like that was a success.
After the other two had read their work it was about 8pm and we decided that food was a good idea, and more wine (for the others, I actually don’t drink). We then wiled away the evening chatting about our lives, about our projects and what we’re doing, and music, lots of music; in particular the host and I bonded over some of our favourite artists and I took lots of random photos of stuff. Most of the photos didn’t turn out but I have put the good ones up in an earlier post (Sydney – Part 1).
I hope to be able to continue with my writing and with the encouragement and mentorship of Louise and the others to develop my skills further. I think it is important for us all to find people with similar interests with whom we can form a community. Now in the age of technology I think it is especially important to try to find someone who can work with you face to face on your art. Plus face to face can involve the consumption of mood enhancing beverages which always helps.