Phil: I went to a book launch last night. It was a bit random – an e-mail arrived inviting me for no better reason (I think) than that I lived in the area. Still, I thought, it might be interesting not having been to a launch before what with the publishing world being too blinkered to pick up our efforts so far.
On arrival, I picked up the obligatory glass of wine and looked around. There were a few people turning up and gradually the room got busier. The problem is that while everyone else was having a good time chatting, despite my best efforts, and admittedly I’m not brilliant at this, I wasn’t. Assuming that I’m on my own at this sort of do, it’s usually simple enough to spot another lone soul and go and talk to them. Except there weren’t any. Seriously, I was the only person who didn’t know someone.
Earwigging conversations, I worked out that the marketing people had very sensibly got in touch with local writers groups. They had turned up en masse. I have never been anywhere so cliquey. You know things are bad when people won’t even return a glance. I mean I’m not George Cloony or anything but I might as well have been carrying a bell and shouting “unclean”.
Now neither of us belong to a writers group and have never felt the urge to join one. To be honest, they always look a bit terrifying. A room full of writers desperate to get published and hammering away at various potboilers. Get a bit of success and while they might on the face of it appear happy, as soon as you are out of sight, pins will be stuck in your effigy.
But is this right ? Has anyone out there got any experience of writers groups ?
Did they help you ? Does one person take over and dominate ?
On one hand I think it might prompt me to get a move on with stuff, on the other membership will turn what is fun into a chore. Perhaps I will be filled with inspiration, or too many ideas will turn me into a ball of frustration as I can’t focus on the story we want to tell. Maybe at a group, we would meet someone useful in the quest to get published, or (more likely I think) do these people avoid groups like the plague for fear of being bombarded with half-writen manuscripts and demands for feedback.
As for the launch, I drained the glass and bailed out. Next time I go, I want to be the one at the front with my name on the cover.