Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday Fun - Meeting Other Writers

Pink Heart Society regular columnist Kate Walker is talking about one of the best things about being a writer...getting to meet other writers!

Last month I had to do something that I really don’t like doing. In fact it’s something I really don't want to have to do if I can avoid it at all.

I had to cancel a course that I was planning to run.

It’s the first time in ages that I’ve had to do this  but sadly there weren’t the numbers signed up to make it worthwhile running it. Which was a great pity. But in many ways it was also a relief. May turned out to be one of the most hectic months this year - with the bedroom being totally revamped and redecorated, unexpected visitors staying and, of course, a small thing called a deadline!   So really, deep down, I knew I should be grateful for the fact that the course wasn’t running and so I’d got time to knuckle down and concentrate on the new story and the characters who were nagging at me to write their story.

But the truth is that I was disappointed.  

So now you’re probably wondering just what this has to do with ‘fun’?  Well, although my courses have a serious teaching (obviously!) side, there has been on extra benefit, a bonus that I’ve got from them. Something I didn’t really expect when I was first asked if I’d teach writing romance – first at Writers’ Holidays at Fishguard in Wales – and then with Relax and Write at venue RNA's meeting in Lancaster in July. 

I never expected it to be such fun.

But I’m sure you know how it is – sometimes when you tell people you write romance you get those looks – the ones that say ‘You write that stuff’ - or even worse, they come right out and say it.  But you’re with other people who want to write - you know – the ones who ‘get’ it and so  get you, without question or hesitation, then it’s like coming home. And you  just feel you belong.

When I started teaching I was nervous and worried – could I do this? Would the students benefit from the classes – but most of all would they enjoy them?  These days I look forward to the courses as a break from writing, a time of discussing ideas, hopefully coming up with new ones. And going home refreshed, revitalised and re-inspired.  But most of all I leave reluctantly, wishing I could stay with the friends I make, the fun I’ve had.

Some time ago, my sister came to stay with me and her husband said that he expected she’d have some really intellectual conversations with her sister being an author and my husband being a tutor and another writer. Er – no - we spent the entire time making up word play and giggling our heads off over the silliest things. 

It’s like that at the Writers’ Holidays or the weekend courses with Relax and Write.  Last year one of the organisers said that she could tell the course had gone well because she’d been working in the room underneath where I was teaching and she could hear the laughter all through the weekend.  And when I was at the  Romance Writers of Australia conference  a member of the hotel staff asked if we were ‘really having a conference’ as  no other delegates had laughed as much as we Romance writers did - ceratinly not the accountants who'd been there the week before.

Well no – Romance Writers know how to have fun.  You can’t  do anything else really, can you when your tutor (that’d be me) considers huge coloured pictures of Hugh Jackman a valuable teaching aid - or puts up on the whiteboard ’25 Reasons to Have  Sex’ and before you know it there are not 25 but 55 – and counting!  I once mentioned that in the queue for lunch at Writers’ Holiday and the man ahead of me turned round, wide-eyed and said ‘I rather think I’m in the wrong class.’  

Every course I run has formal, official, planned teaching sessions with discussions and writing exercises – but the best times, the times when we learn a whole lot more again, are the evenings when we kick off our shoes, share a bottle of wine and just talk... (And no, we don’t get much sleep – but we can sleep when we get home. That is, unless we’re on a deadline...) And it’s not just the students, the tutors too are old friends and in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Fishguard Bay Hotel or the Royal Agricultural University Cirencester or wherever the next course will be we can all get together and catch up long into the night.

After the last weekend course one of my students sent me this great saying:  (It’s a Queenism from the great site Queen of Your Life)

She had one hard and fast rule these days
Spend more time with people who make you snort liquid out of your nose or laugh so hard tears run down your cheeks.

I couldn’t agree more.  Most days we just about managed to eat breakfast before we started talking and laughing.

So as the conference season approaches fast, and I’m already looking forward to the Complete Romance Writing Course at Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard – with another Focus on Writing Romance retreat coming up in October, I’m already smiling just in anticipation at the thought of being with old friends – and making new ones – and laughing so hard with people who just ‘get it’ about writing.  I know there are some people who will be approaching their first conferences or courses and might be apprehensive about going into an event with a bunch of strangers, so I’ll offer you the advice given to me by my lovely friend Holly Jacobs when I went to my first Romance Writers of America conference in Denver.

Just remember there will be the people who know you and love you – and the people who don’t know you yet but are going to love you.

If you’ve never been to a conference or a course – try it. You can’t beat the fun and friendship that comes from knowing you all care about the same thing – and you all ‘get’ it!  I'll be at the Romantic Novelists' Association conference at Lancaster at the beginning of July - and then at Writers' Holiday in Fishguard  at the end of that month - if you're there, do come and say hello and hopefully we'll share a laugh or two.

My latest Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents was Destined For The Desert King, which was published in December 2015.

A new title, Indebted to Morenowill be published at the end of September this year - and if you missed A Throne For The Taking the first time around, that will be reprinted in the 3-in-1 By Request Collection: Claiming His Princess in August 2016.

I've just been sent a copy of my brand-new Harlequin Presents cover for Indebted for Moreno - so I can share it with you here (the UK one hasn't appeared yet).

Visit Kate Walker's website and blog for up to date news; or find her Facebook page here.

Oh - and PS - that cancelled course has been rescheduled for early nest year - so if you're interested in the Writers' Repair Shop weekend course check out my website for April 2017 in  Cirencester.

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