Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Writing Life

The writer's life is often said to be a solitary one, although I guess there are plenty of people whose experience of office life makes this seem attractive rather than lonely. But I realised some time ago that one of the sub-texts of this blog is that it reflects my belief that, even for a mid-list writer who is far from being a mega-seller, the writing life can be hugely appealing. It's a belief that has survived some mishaps in my writing career, as well as many very happy moments, and one point I often make when giving talks about writing is that, in fact, the writing life offers plenty of opportunities for enjoyable socialising.

As The Golden Age of Murder explains, the Detection Club enjoyed great success because it offered the first social network for writers. Even those who prefer our own company much of the time can still relish the chance of an occasional get-together with like-minded people. Last week brought varied opportunities for me to enjoy social occasions with other writers.

These included dinner with Douglas Stewart, whom I've featured on this blog more than once before. Doug is a fellow lawyer as well as fellow crime writer, and he was stopping over at Manchester Airport on his way from the Isle of Man to Las Vegas. It was great to catch up with him, as well as with a mutual friend who was also a colleague of mine for many years. Not all social events with lawyers are fun, in my experience, but this one definitely was..

Next came a wonderful trip to Oxford in the company of Peter Gibbs, a highly successful writer for television and stage, as well as a novelist whose Settling the Score is one of the best novels ever written about professional sport. Peter introduced me to Vincent's, a sportsman's club in the heart of the city which (given my lack of sporting prowess) I never even knew existed. Fascinating. Peter was once a prominent professional cricketer, not far short of Test match standard, and I really used to enjoy watching him bat. A highlight of our trip was being shown round the cricket pavilion in the Parks where his name is emblazoned on the boards listing the Oxford cricket Blue who have played in the University match. We also attended a drinks party at Balliol hosted by the Society of Authors - an excellent organisation which provides a great deal of helpful advice to authors. If you are eligible to join, I strongly recommend membership.

And then there was a lunch in Boroughbridge for members of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers' Association. It was great to see there Peter N. Walker, who founded the Chapter 28 years ago. I met Peter and his wife Rhoda at that first meeting, and we've been friends ever since. By one of those strange coincidences, Peter was the author of the books on which Heartbeat was based - and the lead screenwriter for Heartbeat was,,,Peter Gibbs.It's a small world.

Again, the CWA, and its regional chapters, offer a great deal to members, and I've benefited enormously from being a part of the Northern Chapter. I very much hope that any authors who feel they'd benefit from meeting pleasant and like-minded people will consider joining up with a writers' organisation. If my experience is anything to go by, you will never regret it..


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