Search This Blog

Friday, 6 November 2015

Jenny Harrison on the benefits of Writing Groups

A few years ago I attended a Book Festival and I was behind the counter of the Mairangi Writers’ Group stall when a woman came up to me. She appeared slightly nervous but not as nervous as the man standing some way behind her.
“My husband has written a book,” she said. “He would like to get it published.”
“That’s marvellous,” I gushed. “Would he like me to…”
“Oh no, he doesn’t want anyone to read it.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“No, he wants it published but won’t let anyone read it.”
Top marks if you can see the problem here.
The gentleman hadn’t joined a writing group or had a beta-reader look at it or even sent it to an editor. But he wanted it published. Now, is that deep humility, fear of criticism or total arrogance? Perhaps the gentleman thought I was far too much of a pleb to read his masterpiece.
There are hundreds, no, make that thousands, of us who want to write, or dream that one day we will or even are in the process of writing. And why do we do it?
Because we want to share. We have a story or an idea, or perhaps a moral we want to re-enforce. We may be an expert at something and have a wonderful idea for a “how-to…” book (check out Bev Robitai’s  The Reassuring Guide to Self Publishing). But the basic desire is to share what we have with others.
I have been exceptionally blessed by being in a vibrant, colourful and trustworthy group, the Mairangi Writers’ Group in Auckland, New Zealand. We each have a different style of writing and we write on different subjects. All of us want to share our story with other people and the group has about forty titles to its name. Now, that’s what I call sharing! Does this group follow the old adage – write what you know? No! They don’t, but they write what they love and that shows in every book that is published by someone in our group.
Evan Andrew writes historical fiction and his love of historical research shines through every book. I particularly like The Spanish Woman, a story that came from the diaries of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who was intrigued by a Spanish noblewoman in the court of the Pasha. Evan loves research and it shows.
Vicky Adin is likewise entranced with history. She started off writing about her husband’s ancestor, Daniel Adin, in her book Daniel. Further books all demonstrate her sure grasp of history and family.
Bev Robitai has a great love of theatre and her two murder/mystery books, Body on the Stage and Murder in the Second Row, are gripping and filled with theatrical jargon and expertise.
I have had to resort to creating a mystical village, Panui, as the background to my books. I think that as an immigrant I have difficulty placing myself solidly into the Kiwi psyche so I have had to ‘invent' it. My two silly scallywags, Rusty Naills and his brother Slasher, live in Panui and I would hesitate to say they are typical Kiwis. I might get deported! Read them in Rusty and Slasher’s Guide to Crime and Rusty and Slasher and the Circus from Hell and let me know if they’re typically Kiwi!
I love crime novels, not too gory, and I think it’s about time I wrote one. Once written, may I share it with you?
Jenny Harrison

No comments:

Post a Comment