Wednesday 13 November 2013

Do writers need friends who write?

Peaslake (last spring)
I signed up for my first writing course in the summer of 2004 at Richmond Adult Community College (“RACC”). Up until then, I’d been tapping away on an old laptop and I’d completed a first draft; a load of old rubbish. That's when I 'came out' as a writer. You know what I mean. When you first start writing, you don’t tell anyone except for close friends and family. Then the questions begin and you're not prepared for them: 'How's the writing?' and 'What's your book about?'; and you wish you'd kept it quiet because this means there's no going back, otherwise you'll look like a fool.

I went to several courses at the RACC, where I began to mould Book 1 into shape (still working on that…) and it was great to meet other writers, the array of talent inspiring me to improve. A few years later I signed up for a course with Ruth Brandt at Guildford Adult Learning Centre. Ruth started the ‘Write Away’ courses at The Hurtwood Inn in Peaslake in February 2012.  

Last weekend I returned to Peaslake for my fourth ‘Write Away’ course. The Hurtwood Inn closed for refurbishment on Sunday and there’s a chance the hotel may be turned into apartments. I hope The Hurtwood Inn remains a hotel and that Ruth's ‘Write Away’ weekends return. Peaslake is a village in the Surrey hills, reached by driving through sunken, single-track lanes (not that easy in the dark when you don’t know where you’re going!). The décor at The Hurtwood Inn is dated; the curtains flower-patterned and the windows in the rooms so old, they might as well be open when they’re closed; but that’s part of its charm. When you walk upstairs to your room, the carpet has that musty smell which takes you back to the 1970s. A log fire crackles in the bar (this time the smoke set off the alarm) and there are brown leather sofas to sink into. Again we were plied with food and endless cups of tea and coffee and the staff put the Prosecco in the fridge especially for us.

Writers are never short of conversation and often very supportive towards each other, there to pat each other on the back and say ‘Keep going!’. It was lovely to see old friends and make new ones and I enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories and poems. There were moments where we laughed so much, I had tears running down my face and I can’t wait for our next get-together.

On the way home, I stopped at Guildford to buy a pair of shoes I'd had my eye on for The Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party next Wednesday; another opportunity to see lovely friends who write.

I wonder if these will make my feet hurt...

Other posts on Peaslake:
Writing in the Surrey hills and using snow to make a character vulnerable
Getting into the writing zone: Peaslake part II