|We all need friends....|
It's an exercise that I'm particularly fond of, because it was the way that my first book was born, in a classroom at City University where I was taking a course in Writing for Children. My character (14 year old boy in witness protection) met a disabled athlete dreamed up by author Amanda Swift who taught the course. We sketched a basic plot, and at the end of the lesson I felt so inspired that I asked Amanda if I could steal her character for my book.
I also like it as an exercise because it demonstrates a way of approaching writing that is quite unlike the usual stereotype of the lone author thinking in solitude. By chatting and debating - noise levels were high - the boys came up with fabulous plots. At the end of the workshop, they were so enthusiastic about this collaborative way of working that I suggested that they find writing partners, to help them develop their ideas and critique their work.
After all, in the world of children's writing we help each other out all the time.
This week I delivered a copy-edited manuscript which has been read at various stages by at least six writer friends, all with helpful advice.
I posted to an on line writers' group which encourages members to meet their daily deadlines - and to several other friendly forums dedicated to sharing news, advice, career guidance and just a little bit of gossip.
I met another friend to give her feedback on her novel, and had a quick read of another friend's new project to give advice before her deadline.
I had cocktails and dinner with six writer friends and an evening in drinking wine and eating cake with two others.
A writer friend had to pull out of the St Albans festival, so was looking for a replacement. I stood in for her, and met two author friends who I'd previously only met online.
Today, I'm going to be taking part in STREAM, a new children's and teen book event in South London - alongside countless author friends. Details (it's not too late to book if you're reading this in the morning) here.
Sometimes, I feel it's my writer friends that keep me going in this up-and-down world of being an author. I don't think I could do it without them. And I have to keep writing, just to stay in this wonderful community!