Jo writes in Dartington
Remember that saying from back in the 70’s … “why not stop watching television and do something more interesting instead?”
It may be an old phrase but it’s one I think of often, particularly when I’m a bit grumpy or bored or both.
I know that, as a writer, I need the company of other writers in order to feel fulfilled and inspired. I also know that I need to write. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Actually, when you have just moved to a new city or country it is not simple at all. For me, I learned six postings ago that I could not sit there waiting for someone else to start a writers’ circle, I had to do it myself. Back in Oman in 1993 I did this by simply making a poster asking for interested people to come along to a meeting at my house one evening. I made a poster because this was what you did before email and social media! Anyway, people came and I made friends who shared my passion for writing. I also did some writing once a month at the informal meetings. And bingo! I was happy again. I am a writer who needs writers.
Here in Kuala Lumpur I started a writers’ circle right back at the beginning, in fact, a week or two after we moved into our apartment. This time I advertised for ‘takers’ using current connections, a Facebook event and social media. People came. I made friends. I was happy … and then the summer came around and I learned that KL must be the most transient place on earth. We lost half of our members in one fell swoop. Just like that. Gone.
OK, I knew we needed more members and I’m on the case. But then I went on a writing retreat in Devon with four of my old Hague writers’ circle buddies. We rented a couple of cottages, assigned a day for each of us to be in charge and set about having fun, writing every day and surprising ourselves by writing tasks set by others on topics we’d never have imagined.
One day we had a walk around the area and learned about its history and how they rehearsed for DDay nearby. Then we wrote a piece of fiction from the point of view of someone who’d been involved. Another day we wandered round a freshwater lake tasked with looking at colour and then wrote on the theme of colour. Another day we were assigned to write letters to the place where we were staying, Watermill Cottages, the most inspiring of places. You get the picture. I loved it. I loved the company of writers and adored being stretched to write in new genres.
So, here I am back in KL and wanting to recreate a little of that magic. And it was while I was in the bath the other day that I realised what I needed was a Writers’ Café. I needed a forum for being stretched among other folk who love writing. And so, I called on the support of Melinda and Nova who are already in the Writers’ Circle and the three of us are going to run it. Once a month, in a café. I think it’s a cool idea. We’ll set a task you are unlikely to be expecting and ask everyone to write and then share, over coffee of course. Our first meeting is in September in café in the Publika Mall. If you fancy coming along take a look at our events page to find out more.
Of course, if you don’t live in KL and fancy a week in Phuket, my mate Anne and I are involved in a regular retreat there. If you want a slice of the magic, then do take a look at Anne’s website.
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