Presented without comment… except to say that Claire remains a driving force and an essential part of the soul of Reading Writers.
Also, it’s her fault that yr esteemed webmaster is at the reins of this website, so all complaints to her.
Dear Reading Writers,
Being a member of you has, I believe, been a blessing and I maintain I would not have got published had it not been for the support and friendship of your people and the discipline you’ve instilled in me to practise my writing. Unfortunately, due to family issues and work commitments, I’m not able to come along to meetings as much as I used to at the moment but until I do, I want to share the following with you and hope you will indulge me.
I joined you because I met Julie Cohen on a Cornerstones writing course and she told me about Reading Writers and put me in touch with your then secretary, Don Louth (he of the Don Louth Award). My heart was in my mouth when I rang him and asked if I could join. He was, naturally, lovely and welcoming. My first submission to a manuscript evening, however, was a disaster! As soon as I pressed ‘Send’, I realised I’d got a change in POV half way through the scene and yes, obviously this was spotted by EVERYONE IN THE ROOM when it came to giving feedback. Nevertheless, I learnt from this and was grateful for the advice.
Over the years I’ve been a member (and there have been many of them), I have valued the input I’ve got from you, learned to pick out what resonates, respect what doesn’t and have grown in confidence enough to believe that if I don’t agree with the feedback, then it’s because I believe in the choices I’ve made and that it is this belief that will help me become a better writer in the long term.
More important than this though are the skills I’ve gained in critiquing others’ work (indeed I now do this for a job!). I think that responding to the work of others helps us hone our own skills: we tend to be better at spotting plot inconsistencies or bumpy characterisation in other people’s work than we do our own, and the lessons I’ve learned about, for example, where to start a chapter or how to make dialogue convincing has come from reading the work of your lovely people.
So I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the support, the friendship, the criticism and praise, and the confidence I’ve gained to follow my instincts where necessary. The FEAR is still ever present and DOUBT is my constant companion but you have helped me do battle with these things and I’m looking forward to seeing you again very soon.