Some people are marvellous about keeping in touch and bringing friends together, and we writers appreciate this more than most. This is what happened last week when my writer friend Sue invited all the women who’d met for the first time in Portugal last year to her beautiful 14th century home. We’d all shared a villa and had the most wonderful writing week. We’ve kept vaguely in contact, though not continuing the critique which we’d so enjoyed in Portugal and had all agreed was so valuable.
Sadly, Alison Morton, the sixth writer, couldn’t make the pre-Christmas reunion as she lives in France, but happily since then has become a published writer (http://alison-morton.com/). The rest of us had a fabulous time sipping champagne round a blazing log fire (one of the small perks of being a writer!) and catching up on our writing projects. We did remember to send you a toast, Alison.
Since those balmy Portuguese days, we were pleased to learn we’d all made plenty of progress. During that holiday week I’d had an email from Iain Dale of Biteback Publishing saying he loved my book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business, and that he wanted to publish it, so it was nice to tell the girls who hadn’t made it to my Mayfair book launch that it was now out in paperback and ebook. Gail began an MA creative writing home-study course in September and loves it, Grace is continuing her PhD on the history of slavery, Carol McGrath had her debut historical novel published this year (http://scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.fr/), and Sue has started a new novel and writes a daily blog within her local writers’ group (http://elsteadwritersgroup.wordpress.com). It shows what a determined lot we are!
Sue was deep in the preparation of a proper sit-down lunch for 45 female friends (no, this is not a typing error) the following day with only one lady whom she employs to help her. We writers were strictly banned from the kitchen. (I love those kinds of rules.) Sue is an amazing cook, and the sheer number of hot and cold dishes she brought to her enormous dining room table (all homemade by her) was mind-boggling.
I was one of the lucky ones staying for two nights. My bedroom window looked out across miles of countryside with nary a building in sight and the room was surprisingly warm, but Sue suggested I switched on the electric blanket, something I haven’t slept in for maybe 40 years or so. I turned it off before I snuggled in, as I had visions of Sue finding a pile of ashes (mine!) the next morning, and I have to say I had the best two nights’ sleep I’ve had in literally years. Maybe that’s the secret for all us insomniacs. I urge you to try it.
But most important of all, stay in touch with your fellow writers. It can be quite a lonely life and I’ve always found that writers are the friendliest people ever. They’ll cheer you up when one of those evil rejections plops through your letterbox, they’ll encourage you to carry on regardless, and they’ll open a bottle of bubbly when that thrilling phone call or email comes through telling you a lovely agent wants to represent you, or an even more lovely publisher wants to publish your precious book.