Island Life, Word Birds & Process #9
Those of you familiar with my Facebook status will have spotted the hashtag #WG2. It translates as Writing Group 2 and is, to my knowledge, the smallest one in Wales. For years I’d searched for a local writing group that wasn’t poetry-based (no disrespect to poets but I’m not one) and eventually gave up.
A couple of years ago I met Janey at the swimming pool and we realised we were both writers. We began meeting for lunch after our Wednesday session. Both of us were at that tentative ‘what if’ place – unsure if we had any talent, certain only of our passion for writing and the stories we were working on. Initially we talked in general terms about our work. I was still looking for a publisher for Ghostbird and Janey was deep in the scattered draft of her first book. Within a very short space of time we realised we were sharing the detail of our stories and doing so from a place of absolute trust.
And we liked what we heard. We liked one another. From here #WG2 has become the hub around which our writing revolves.
Even though we write in different genres, both of us have our roots in Wales: a sense of the place we inhabit informs our storytelling. Over time this has shaped our writing relationship. We have developed a real bond and even though I was fortunate enough to see Ghostbird published, absolutely nothing has changed. We remain a tight, supportive duo. Janey’s authentic regard for my small success is truly affecting.
Nine months ago I began writing my second book. Janey has worked like a woman possessed and her book – written on a far broader canvas and with a cast of thousands! – is nearing completion. It has taken on a life of its own. She is more assured and determined, enthused and quietly excited. And so am I. I love her story; I sense something unexpected and unusual in it.
From the beginning we decided against critiquing. Neither of us has read a word the other has written yet we know everything. We are familiar with one another’s characters, the various relationships, the plot twists. We know the beginnings, the middles and the endings. Every week we talk and share and brainstorm for hours on end, offering insight and ideas. Above all, we listen. Writing my new story, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve presented my friend with a tangle and she’s come up with the answer. I know I’ve done the same for her.
I am indebted to this woman. Being part of our dynamic partnership has in no small way changed how I write and how much I write. It’s made me more disciplined; given me a level of confidence I genuinely needed. Writing a second book is a challenge. I’m still unsure about it but so long as I have Janey cheering me along, I won’t be tempted to give up.
ps: Janey is also responsible for the lovely black & white photographs of me, including the header.