Also known as 'being illuminated by the bulb!'
I’m sure that makes no sense to you, dear reader. Not many things I say probably do, but where would be the fun if they did, hmmm? Well, let me enlighten you.
I would hope, a little over a week ago, certain things I said did make sense. A little over a week ago, I had the genuine delight of visiting Chelmsford in Essex. I’d been asked to pop down (as much as you can pop when the journey takes a little over 3 hours each way) and chat to a writing group – The Write Bulb.
I was actually asked a year ago but, for one reason and another, I couldn’t go. The invitation was always there, hanging in the air like a cloud. Not one of those nasty, dark, angry ones though, the ones that make you run and hide so they don’t drench you or jab at you with their lightning. No, this was one of those light types that drift about the clear sky on a summer morn. The kind that happily change shape from dragon to butterfly to rocket ship to keep you entertained whilst life is keeping you occupied.
So, finally, everything fell into place for the visit to take... erm... place.
Having never been to Essex before, I was pleased that Google Maps was my friend. I set off nice and early (around 8:09am) with my supply of Sin postcards, Sin paperbacks and Lincolnshire Pork Sausages.
Yes, that’s what I said, sausages. Not just any old sausage, either. Lincolnshire Pork ones. And not just any old Lincolnshire Pork ones. Pettits award winning Lincolnshire Pork Sausages! If you haven’t tasted them, you are missing something good. Now you may think that’s an odd thing to take to a writers’ group meeting. I’d tend to agree, not least because it was a tray of 40, but they were a special request from the person who invited me down.
Carlie Cullen, step forward. Carlie is a wonderful writer, author of the equally wonderful Heart Search. She’s part of the Myrddin Publishing Group I’m also a member of, and through which my Dark Places anthology is published. And a finer group of people you’d be hard pressed to meet.
So. The journey down was fairly uneventful, apart from me having to listen to a steady stream of static from my car stereo which seemed unable to grab hold of a station long enough to let loose audible music from the car speakers. Even though I hadn’t met either Carlie or her lovely daughter Maria before, I felt like we were old friends. The crispy bacon butty she made me for lunch cemented that feeling.
Did I mention I was a little nervous about the visit? Or did you guess based on previous posts? I feel I never know what to say or how to start. I think it’s because I’m not entirely sure I have anything to say! Or anything worth listening to, at least. I say my ‘stuff’ in my books. I ramble and delve and ponder in my writing through my characters. Telling people about one of my characters is easy. Telling people about me, not so much.
I walked into the room with Carlie and Maria, hoping we’d be early and I could psyche (remember, psyche with an ‘e’ not an ‘o’) myself up prior to the arrival of the rest of the group. I didn’t have that chance. A good few were already there with others joining us steadily. And I was given the seat at the head of the table!
First up, after introductions, was the writing challenge. I agreed to take part and had brought my journal all ready to go. The subject was ‘The room in the tower,’ and we could write anything we liked along those lines. We just had to ‘go for it’. So I went for it.
As is usual for me, I had no idea where I was going with the story. I still don’t really. The 35 minutes we had, though, gave me chance to get a good start. One or two of the troupe read out their stories, then I was asked to.
Still, it seemed to go down well. I think.
Eventually, it was my turn to talk. My escape routes were blocked and, at the head of the table, I could hardly duck my head and remain quiet. But, what to say? How to start? OK, I knew what I wanted to actually tell them – my writing and publishing ‘career’, but...
Then John, a lovely, funny Scot, jumped in with a question before I had chance to draw a breath. From that point on, things went pretty smoothly, I think. The members of the group seemed interested in what I had to say (though they could be good actors) and asked some in-depth, great questions that actually made me think about my own writing. I found myself realising things about how and why I produce the work I do, so even this became a sort of therapy. I just hope I don’t get the bill through the post! At least Sin doesn’t charge!
A few of them were gracious enough to buy copies of my book, for which I’m grateful, and some remained behind afterwards (even though we’d run over by half an hour) to chat. I appreciated that. Sarah-Jane – I hope your writing brings you the help it’s brought me (and thanks for following me on Twitter!), and James, please finish your story. I want to see where it goes!
I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Write Bulb and sincerely hope they remain in touch. There are some talented people there and the group, as a whole, are a delight.
Oh, and I accepted the writing challenge of a 1000 word story on The Masquerade. I’d best get started then! In my defence, I have spent a fair amount of time reading, and when you’re sailing in a South Sea Bubble or dipping your toe in the Ocean at the End of the Lane, it’s difficult to put pen to paper.
Thank you Carlie, Maria and the Writer’s Bulb. It was a long but enjoyable and fulfilling day. I’ll maybe see you again next year!