On 14 March 2012 crime writer Rod Duncan and edgy young adult fiction author Maxine Linnell visited Nottingham for a joint social between Nottingham Writers’ Studio and Leicester Writers’ Club. They were joined by four other members of LWC.
I’d asked if they could each talk a bit about the role that writing groups, or LWC in particular, had played in the development of their writing and writing careers. Rod explained that there were two key factors that helped him get writing and then published: firstly, the invention of word processing, which made writing for him, as a dyslexic, a much more accessible activity than it had been previously; and secondly, the Leicester Writers’ Club.
He was clear, though, that writing groups have their limits. Before he shows his work to other people, for example, he needs to get the narrative voice worked out without any interference from other people. Once he’s ready though, he finds workshops perfect for getting feedback on individual scenes and chapters.
Maxine similarly felt that it was LWC that had both got her going and kept her going as a writer. Not just the feedback on her work, but the general support and little nudges to keep sending her work out. Her first novel only got picked up by the twentieth agent she’d sent it to, and without the encouragement from fellow LWC members, she’s not sure she would have got to twenty.
As a therapist, she says, groups meet our ‘need to have someone with us to help us continue with our creativity’.
We also learnt a bit about the way LWC works. Whereas NWS initially arose out of a need for space and networking, LWC grew out of a need for feedback and critique. The core of the club is its weekly Thursday night sessions, which sound like a cross between a live literature event and a critique group.
Texts aren’t circulated beforehand, but are read by the writer from a lectern to the audience, who are seated in rows and can number anything from ten to thirty. Questions and comments are then fielded by a chairperson. The lack of preparation needed by the audience helps encourage participation, and the breadth of the audience means that writers get a wide range of perspectives on their work.
Post by Robin Vaughan-Williams