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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Reaching Out

Writing can be a solitary business, sitting at the keyboard or with a pad of paper in front of you, for long periods of time. For me one of the best things to do as an antidote to this hermit-like activity is to meet up with other writers. And I have been lucky enough to do this twice this week. The first time was at The Romantic Novelists' Awards in London and the second time was a lunch with local children's writers who have become good friends over the years.

The Romantic Novelists' Award Ceremony was held at The Gladstone Library in Whitehall and the prizes were handed out by the delightful Darcey Bussell. I would love to put some photos up but at the moment blogger won't let me upload (if anyone has the solution to this I would be grateful to hear from you). You can find a photo of myself and the five other short-listed authors in the young adult category on my Facebook page or there are more photos on the RNA website.

Despite the fact that I would hardly know anyone there I wasn't nervous about attending because writers tend to be a friendly bunch of people and amongst the delightful, talented authors I met were Liz Bankes, Imogen Howson (the winner in our category), Christina Courtenay, Marie-Louise Jensen and Beth Reekles. We talked about our writing history and openly about work in progress. This reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago with one of my son's teachers.
"When I retire I plan to write a book," he said.
"Oh what's it going to be about?" I asked.
The shutters came down immediately.
"Oh I can't possibly tell you that," he replied. "It's a secret."
Now I may have got this wrong but the implication was that I might steal his idea. I had no intention of doing any such thing and, in my experience, the majority of writers don't steal other writers ideas. The ones I know admire someone who comes up with a great idea and we may think 'I wish that I'd thought of that,' but steal them, no. The writers I know have more than enough ideas of their own and not enough time to get them all on to paper without having to resort to stealing other people's.

Of course some people just like to keep their ideas to themselves and I respect that. But reaching out and talking things through with other writers, whether you are just starting out or more established, can be incredibly valuable. You gain support, inspiration, motivation and maybe that light-bulb moment which helps you see the way forward with a plot which has been thwarting you and hopefully you give the same in return. Those of us who have a trusted group of writer friends with whom we can meet up with on a regular basis are blessed indeed. For those of us who aren't so fortunate there are a plethora of classes out there where you will meet like-minded people and on-line forums where you can make contact. Writing may be something we do on our own but we don't have to be totally alone in the process. So if you've been thinking about joining a class or making contact with other writers over the internet I would encourage you to do so. I'm sure you won't regret it.

On Tuesday 25th I am a guest on Lizzie Lamb's website. Lizzie is the author of two hugely popular books, Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bridge. She is a great supporter of other writers and I am very honoured to be on her blog.

Thank-you for reading this week. Have a good one.

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