Avoiding cliché is just one task facing the struggling writer (dash it – another cliché, sorry). Even if you are not starving in a garret, you can easily feel rather lonely as you try to transform your ideas into words. Many artforms can be collaborative or even sociable, but writing usually takes place in isolation. So how do you know whether it’s any good?
One way can be to attend a writers’ group. Show your baby to other writers, who understand that you might be feeling sensitive about a work in progress, and who will offer reactions and suggestions in a friendly atmosphere.
Westminster Writers’ Group, which meets at Marylebone Library (usually twice a month – next meeting 6 June), has been performing this vital function for 15 years. I have observed them from a distance – being on duty in the library while the group was meeting in the next room – and I can testify that they don’t shout, scream, snarl at each other or tear up their efforts! They read bits out, and chat in a friendly fashion.
So it’s good to see that a new writers’ group is being started at Paddington Library, with exactly the same aim: to provide mutual support, with the practical aim of helping writers to get their work published. The first meeting is on 14 June.
A quick mention for another friend of writers, the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s no exaggeration to call this book a friend, although it sometimes offers tough love. Experts give sterling advice on how to sell your novel, short story, or article. And the book is packed with practical help – lists of editors, advice on acceptable formats, copyright and finance hints, and much more. You can consult this treasure trove in every Westminster library, and also online, as part of the 24/7 Library. The Yearbook is part of KnowUK, a huge collection of directories, handbooks and other sources of information about life in this country.
Oh – I just counted at least 6 more clichés since the last one I acknowledged. A thousand apologies, from the bottom of my heart.