The Welcome Meetings

Since October 2008, I’ve been meeting once a month with my friend E at the Welcome Cafe on Euston Rd. Nice modern caf, posh tea and cakes. Good bookshop and well heeled customers. E and I have met maybe six times. Usually in the afternoons. We meet to collaborate on the books we are putting together, separately. Well, at first it was to collaborate on just getting a buyable, marketable synopsis together. But now we’ve decided to keep up the habit of seeing each other ’til our books are written.

E is a writer too, a short story writer of some note. We’ve known each other ten years now, since we met on an Arvon course in 1999 at Totleigh Barton. E was one of my first bone fide writer friends. We have kept in touch ever since and tracked each others’ lives and writing careers.

So if we’re both writers etc – why meet? Why meet just to get some piffling synopsis together? Surely you don’t need to collaborate on such a thing? Surely any author worth their salt doesn’t need their hand held  – just to put together a synopsis?

Well – actually – our projects are both memoirs. Both contain elements of love-story and loss. Each of us has been extremely hesitant about exposing our lives to public scrutiny. About ‘outing’ ourselves. Do we really need to write our stories that much?

In short, yes. Our ‘stories’ have got to the stage that they are stand alone wopping great big narratives in their own right which have dominated our lives for  a number of years. We’d have to be blind or stupid not to notice.

For my part, working with E has been enormously beneficial:

1) Outing myself, my fears etc – has been a relief. So far, E hasn’t been half as shocked or horrified as I’d imagined.

2) She has a keen and razor-sharp eye n the page. Her feedback is always perceptive and precise.

3) The improptu discussions we’ve had over the course of these last months, while discussing our manuscripts – have touched on all the big life themes – love, sex, having babies, not having them, more sex. Loss, why others fail to undestand loss.

What started out as a tentative journey, a supportive process, has turned into a rich and creative writing experience for us both. I had never before contemplated collaboration. Novel writing, my usual speciality, is a lone process.  Now – I’m amazed.  These memoirs we were both afraid to authorise, now exist.

We are making each others’ books so much better. Now each of us has 20 000 words. Me on the brink of a deal. E’s book proposal is with her agent.

We’ve given each other realism and pragmatism, good writerly adivce, as well as sound counsel on issues of moral uncertainty: a process I’d recommend.

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~ by moniqueroffey on March 7, 2009.

One Response to “The Welcome Meetings”

  1. Sounds like a great theme for an article for The New Writer or Mslexia – showing how writers can support and encourage each other to be courageous and stay focused, especially where the subject matter is personal and exposing. Bravo to you both. Looking forward to reading both memoirs.

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