Today I attended the Plymouth proprietary library writers group for the first time, a description of which can be found here [Link]. This club has the serious benefit when it comes to location, as its meetings are held in a 200 year old library! I was by far the youngest person there and it was very different to meetings I’ve been to in the past.
I have only attended two writers groups before and both didn’t last. The first was in uni and no one on my creative writing course attended because there was no serious critique going on. And when your degree depends on giving and receiving harsh and constructive criticism, you can’t really turn that off to spare people’s feelings even if they admit it’s just a hobby. I stopped attending due to shame and frustration: frustration that no one was attacking my work to make it better and shame because I was being too critical of what people wrote.
I also attended a single meeting for Ballarat writers whilst I was in Australia, which was also where I met my first Oz author. That part of the evening went very well but afterward there was no real group effort towards the writing, with one person reading out a painfully long and not particularly well written story (5,000 words at least) and no one giving any criticism of it at all. The whole aim seemed to be more towards networking. I wanted to try again with this group, taking my own writing to read, but I ended up moving and was unable to attend again.
The Plymouth proprietary library group had a lot more energy behind it from the moment I walked in, which various projects being thrown around, some of which I’m sure I’ll blog about soon. It actually felt like I was surrounded by people who wanted to create a community of writers and weren’t happy to just sit around and read their work aloud. And some of the writing I heard was truly phenomenal, which will hopefully encourage my writing in a positive way!
When I was doing my degree, the pressure of needing to present my writing caused me to write more. Whilst my year in Australia proved to be the most productive of my life (I wrote in in excess of 100,000 words) the year since I left has been a huge downward turn. I love the technical writing I now do for a job but I crave the pressure I once felt, because I have far too languid a personality to push myself.