Writers Meet Up

Writers Meet Up is a relaxed and informal meetup for writers living in and around Leicestershire. We’re a friendly group who are always happy to offer advice and inspiration. We welcome newbies.

The format: Buy a drink, introduce yourself and see where the conversation leads…

When: first Tuesday of each month.
Where: Upstairs at Bru Cafe, Granby Street
Time: 10.30 am onwards

Dates for 2018

Tuesday 6th March
Tuesday 3rd April
Tuesday 1st May
Tuesday 6th June
Tuesday 5th July
August – no meet up
Tuesday 4th September
Tuesday 2nd October
Tuesday 6th November
Tuesday 4th December

Meet Up Notes


Our last meet up on the year was filled with setting goals for ourselves in 2018. A quieter (and chillier) meet up we reflected on the year, and announced details of the next short story prize. We will return in March 2018!

It never quite ceases to amaze me how many people take a leap of faith and start writing. But write we must. Having spent a week, with my head down attending the meet up this time around felt like a much welcome break and disruption to my routine. As soon as the winter months hit us, I find myself wanting to retreat! As always, Leicester’s literary scene seems to be expanding and forever evolving, with lots of exciting things to entice a writer away from their desk. We chatted in small groups, started making plans for 2018 with workshops and gave a shout out to the events in our diaries this month: Leicester Writers Showcase, Sledge Lit and Literary Leicester.

Yikes! This group seems to be getting bigger, with lots of newbies taking up writing in the new term. We had around 18 people (I lost count) for this session which started off with a bit of necessary chat. It was lovely to speak to Brim, who has been writing his first novel since retiring. Clare from Writing School East Midlands came along to properly introduce herself. We introduced ourselves in a big group (sorry if I didn’t speak to everyone) before a handful of us settled down for an impromptu workshop on sending your work out to publishers. My notebook is full, and so on to November, which as you all know is NaNoWriMo – anyone up for a challenge to write a novel in a month?

Well done to those who braved the rain to attend this meet up. It felt very much like a new beginning for meet ups, with plenty of new faces. It was good to catch up with those who attended the July meet up – Grace, Trevor, Anne, and Lola to see how well they did on committing to their writing goals. Gold stars all round! We chatted in small groups and then introduced ourselves and our work. Leicester’s lit scene is thriving and more importantly willing to step away from their computers/notebooks for a brief moment to connect with other writers. Long may it continue!

Our last meet up before the summer was filled with new faces. We talked in small groups, about all things from this year’s Leicester Writes Festival, audience building to what it takes to get published. Is it getting more difficult? We shared news of events and opportunities taking place (which seem to be growing) before setting our writing goals. All duly noted, ready for the new term in September.

A quieter time at this meet up meant we actually spent some time chatting as a group before getting on with some writing. Bath Spa’s 25 word Novel challenge threw up some interesting conversation on what a novel is, and whether it’s possible to write one in such few words. We read out our stories, and agreed it was really difficult to do. Good luck to anyone inspired to submit to the competition!

A mixture of madness and mayhem ensued at meet up this month. We were delighted to be joined by BBC Radio Leicester for the announcement of the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize and thrilled to be joined by a whole army of new faces. We seem to be outgrowing the space! We chatted in groups about our own writing and goals for the coming year, before moving on to do introductions as a group. It was lovely to catch up with Divya and Mahsuda who haven’t attended a meet up for a while, as well as discuss what’s next for the short story prize.

What happens when a bunch of writers are invited to a “speed-dating” event? This month, I was keen for us all to move around, meet new people and really think about how we introduce ourselves so I suggested we sit and chat with the person opposite for three minutes and then switch places. The beauty of this exercise is that it forces you to think about what’s important (90 seconds is hardly much time at all) There was plenty of laughter and noise and as always it’s so heartwarming to be in the company of writers who know just how awkward it is to talk about yourself! Turkish delight also made an appearance to celebrate my recent comp win.

OMG! (I promise never to say that ever again on here) it’s clear to me that this group is becoming rather popular. It’s great to see so many people who are ‘dabbling’ in writing, and those who were very recently only newcomers are taking it more seriously by entering things like the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize (hint, hint – the deadline is April 3) It was great to see Nabila Jameel again, I met her at an event ten years ago. She’s a wonderful poet and its great to see her work develop and hear about the workshops she runs. It’s always inspiring to hear from people who have FINISHED something so Penny Jones’ news that she has just completed her first novel left us all in awe. But things aren’t always easy as a writer, so while we celebrate our success, we’re also there as a much-needed support when things aren’t going so well, to sound out ideas, or to just tell each to keep going. That’s one of the best things about this group. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet made time to join us, you’d be more than welcome!

February 2017
I genuinely thought this was going to be one of our quieter events, but in the end there were 17 of us, which was a pleasant surprise. We were joined by lots of new faces this time including Kim and Laura, and it was good to see Richard and Leah again after a bit of a break. Leah talked about her experience of Write Now Live and meeting her hero, Malorie Blackman and just how nervous she was about being there. She’s now waiting to hear back about the mentoring on offer and hopes to use the opportunity to secure an agent. It’s wonderful to see local writers progressing on to publication after years of plugging away but I think these events also help us off-load and keep us motivated to keep writing. They certainly leave me feeling inspired to tackle that next set of revisions…

January 2017

Our first meet up of the year was took place a week later than usual. We started as we meant to go on: firstly by celebrating publication success with both Penny Jones and Richard Cox who have been published in notable anthologies. We welcomed mostly familiar faces (Penny, Ishi, Hafsha, Katie, Macha, Paul, Grace, Alka, Richard, Marianne) and some newbies (Tabby and John) and began chatting in small groups. I enjoyed hearing about how each writer is developing their work, and the writing goals they are setting themselves for the year. It was an all-too familiar moment when some suggested that they were merely an imposter and were very grateful to be included in our discussion. Even after spending many years writing, it seems amusing to me, how people still feel like a fraud when they introduce themselves. It’s no secret that most of us ‘writers’ do too!

December 2016

Our last meet up of the year was filled with nuggets of inspiration and sharing our journey thus far. For those not familiar with the meet ups, they are an opportunity for anyone who writes to spend time in the company of like minded individuals. This time we chatted about what we hope to achieve with our writing, and what our plans for 2017. It was great to see Divya, Katie, Paula, Grace and Leah after some time. We had plenty of laughs with Ishi and shared the many many things we continue to be involved in.

November 2016

OMG! There were so many of us for this meet up that we threatened to take over the entire floor upstairs! What did we talk about? There was the usual intros round and it was great to see so many new faces too, especially those new to the city, welcome to Leicester! Huge congrats to Anne Jordan who’s been longlisted for the Mslexia comp – we’re super proud of you! This time round we talked diversity schemes, Literary Leicester, and how to keep yourself motivated as a writer.

October 2016
An extra special affair as part of Everybody’s Reading Festival, our October meet up was jam-packed. As well as the usual networking we had some fab readings from Richard, Marianne, Paul and myself and a one-off short story workshop run by me. Selected pieces will be live on the Leicester Writes website ahead of the November meet up.

PS. here’s the link: http://leicesterwrites.co.uk/short-stories/

September 2016
Our September meet up was reinvigorating and unusually busy as we (gladly) shook off the summer holidays and got back into the swing of things with all things work and writing related. Turnout aside we were joined by a very special guest and our youngest ever attendee, baby Iqra. Our heartfelt congratulations to Mahsuda on the baby front! It felt a little strange to be back ‘networking’ and away from my notebook so I started off the session by finishing off something I was working on (in the company of writers, this may seem perfectly normal!) We all had a good catch up and shared news of forthcoming events (Everybody’s Reading Festival, Novel Exchanges and Carol Leeming’s sell out event in which she promised to share BIG NEWS!)*

*Huge congratulations to Carol on the launch of her debut publication – we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy!

August – no meet up

July 2016

Our July meet up is always eventful. We were joined by plenty of newbies and it was great to see the festival spirit still alive and kicking. Firstly, we shared the excitement of Mahsuda’s publication and baby news (well done, Mahsuda!) and then chatted in smaller groups. In our circle with Colin, Lee and Paul we passionately debated whether anyone could be a writer. Is writing a talent, or can it be taught? Disagreement was rife! As part of our intros round we were joined by Emily Harris from Art Reach who introduced us to Journeys Festival which takes place across dates over the summer. Aptly this was followed by sharing our own journey of becoming a writer. It was lovely to see Ishi again, who will be hosting Fox Spirit’s Pocket Party (25th August). Wishing you all a wonderful summer and look forward to welcoming you in September!

June 2016

This was one of our ‘getting on with stuff’ meet ups. We chatted in groups before introducing ourselves. Various bits were up for discussion including a bit of showing off after my trip to the All Party Writers Group Summer party at the House of Lords (they had scones and everything!) where the topic of discussion was diversity in publishing. I shared details of the forthcoming anthology of short stories by Leicestershire writers and rambled on about the festival (with a bit of vagueness for venues needed to be confirmed!) It was great to see Rosalind Adam who’ll be recreating her Children’s Book of Richard III into a performance on the 24th June as part of ArtBeat. Adele Wearing (Fox Bites) gave a passionate insight into the world of all things fantasy and sci-fi (sorely lacking in our current meet ups), she’s busy organising her Pocket Party at DMU (25th August). It seems like everyone is doing something for Everybody’s Reading (will update you all nearer the time). We met newbies Alka and Brigid who talked about what their working on and what their plans are for the summer. It was good to see Grace and Penny who continue to write and scheme!

May 2016

What a busy meet up and with such a jovial mood in the air! May was the time to catch up with old faces and meet lots of newbies and celebrate. We talked about our various endeavours and the pressure of finding the time to write alongside managing house-moving, work, life and families! Mike Brewer read a poem he’d written in Leicester’s honour which was a great way to celebrate LCFC’s remarkable achievement. A perfect addition to his Vardycinni (see pic below). We shared details of comps and commissions, as well as introduced our work and writing. All in all, a really inspiring meet up!

April 2016

Woah! What a noisy and jam-packed meet up April turned out to be. We chatted in small groups, before introducing ourselves – we’re constantly attracting newbies and it was great to see so many new faces this month. There was discussion about crime writing, self publishing, the Leicester Writes festival, the challenges of writing material that isn’t considered mainstream. There was a refreshingly honest discussion about the ‘gatekeepers’ of publishing. The final hour was spent with Julia, discussing her forthcoming play, Calling for Help and writing for stage. We talked Arts Council applications, writing ‘reality’ and the ups and downs of writing comedy for the stage.

March 2016

Another inspiring writers meet up saw lots of regulars come together to discuss publishing, rogue publishers and the New Yorker fiction podcast as well as catching up on work in progress. It was lovely to finally meet Marianne (Whiting). We talked about the upcoming States of Independence event (this Saturday) and are respective talks. I was un-surprised to learn about Trevor’s experience with a ‘trad indie’ publisher who asked for money to publish his book. Writers beware! These operators may appear to be the real deal, but they are no more than vanity publishers, who are out to make a quick buck. Stay well clear!

February 2016

Oh how things change, in the matter of months! Not only was this the first meet up with the highest ever male-female ratio, but it was also the first time we had a boardroom style (less chaotic round of intros and announcements). Katie Sone filled us in on plans for the upcoming Writing East Midlands Conference, and the Aurora prize as well as the new courses held this term at the writing school. There was lots of DMU promotion -(though none of us are even affiliated with the uni) as they
are holding a number of literature/ publishing events including Cultural Exchanges and States of Independence over the next month. For balance, I mentioned the Centre of New Writing Cycling Commission and Carol Leeming’s talk which is taking place later this month on Black British Women Writers. Richard Cox gave us the heads up on Mark Wright’s book launch over at Scarthin Books in May. It was also lovely to share some good news, and have some deep thoughtful conversations with newbies. As always it was an inspiring couples of hours, spent in the best of company.

January 2016

Our first meet up of 2016 kicked off with a story, had a reading in the very middle and finished with rap. Joining us this time round were Grace, Leah, ‘The Richards’, Michael, Ros, Margaret, Cynthia and Julian. We discussed the Bru Leicester Writes Poetry Prize, which lead to a wider discussion about poetry, the writing of it and reading of it; we meandered into a conversation about self-publishing and comedy, and talked about our plans and goals for 2016. It’s an exciting time to be a writer, and hopefully there will be plenty of paid opportunities around which don’t require a PhD!

December 2015

Our final meet up of 2015 was a real celebration of and invitation to virgins (you had to be there!) It was lovely to see so many new and old faces – and to be joined by Leicester’s legends Margaret Penfold and Mike Brewer (some of Leicester Writing Club’s oldest members). We had a round of introductions, which did take a while, I admit for there so many of us. But it’s not often we embrace such a mix, and for that, this night was special. We listened to readings from Penelope Jones, Carole Leeming, and Emma Lee whose poetry was recently published in Five Leaves’ Over Land, Over Sea, poems for those seeking refuge and from Trevor Locke and Mike Brewer.  Hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year. See you in 2016!

November 2015

Have we scared people away? Arriving late to your own event is never a great start, especially when numbers as high as 16 seem to have dwindled to five – but nonetheless Krys, Sarah, Richard, Penny and I began to discuss recent news: Krys was thrilled to attend Jacob Ross’s 2nd masterclass on the short story, delighted that it was even better than the first one he did at Leicester Writes. We were then joined by Cynthia and Antoinette and had a round of intros. Congrats to Penny who had a poem accepted in an anthology and met Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son!) We talked about the WEM conf, States of Independence, the diversity debate, self publishing, bits and pieces we’re working on, attempting but not really trying our hand at NaNoWriMo, diy booklets (Cynthia’s handiwork). All in all a vibrant discussion!

October 2015

Another very busy writers meet up. It was great to see many new and old faces! We chatted in groups before having a rather late introductions round (we’re definitely getting noisier!) We talked about creative writing courses, Literary Leicester and relaying our Everybody Reading experiences. A thoroughly enjoyable if a little noisy meet up!

September 2015

There were so many of us we threatened to take over most of the upstairs, at our first meet up of the academic year. We chatted in disconnected groups to ease ourselves in, before diving in with another set of introductions. Our conversations flowed from summer holidays, writing targets, grappling with Imposter syndrome and employment and diversity in children’s books.

August – no meet up

July 2015

An exceptional meet up with lots of new faces post-festival chatter and all round buzz! A perfect photo-opportunity 🙂 We had another round of introductions (welcoming newbies Grace, Liam and Ishi – who didn’t even leave when I did!), lots of ideas and advice about how to grow the festival. As always there was plenty of scheming and plotting on how to promote Leicester’s writing talent and Ros’s super plan to do a Leicester guest blog. It was especially lovely to see how much support and generosity there is locally and continuing support for literature development. Onwards…

June 2015

We had plenty of new faces at our June meet up and lots of introductions. There was a build up of excitement to the festival as well as general chatter about writing process and practice. It was lovely to meet John Martin and hear about his experiences of going from librarian to author and to meet Katie Sone who runs a regular writing workshop in her local pub. We met Clive Francis again, who had put his creative writing to bed for some years, but is looking to write again. It was a fun filled meet up which took on a life of its own – a step in the right direction!

May 2015

A quiet affair from our usual with four writers (Richard, Penny, Myself and Mahsuda). We talked about the upcoming London Short Story Festival where I’ve been asked to deliver a workshop-in-a-cafe style event. We talked about plans for our own festival – including the mounting to-do list. Richard informed us about the difference between the em dash and en dash which was both enlightening and confusing. Later we were joined by Leicester librarian-extraordinaire Paul Gobey. He talked at length about the role of libraries in literature development and how they can help support Leicester Writes. It was a real education, and inspiring to hear his experiences of working in the libraries since before I was born. And yes, we did talk about the election too!

April 2015
We spent a fair amount of this month’s meet up talking about politics – and trying our best to be diplomatic!
There was writer-chat served up alongside our usual concoction of coffees and teas. Carol shared her vision for a small press she is planning to launch and we talked about the pros and cons of going down a ‘self publishing route’. Richard S is busy as ever with proofreading and editing, we talked about software that editors use (and that writers could buy too to help self-edit their manuscripts and spot errors that go amiss. Richard C has been on the campaign trail, and has been working with another author on his second book. We talked about the plans for the festival in June – and beyond.

March 2015
A huge feast of writers met upstairs at Cafe Bru armed with our equally impressive drinks to discuss the festival of new writing, catch up and discuss writing. There was lots of spinning of ideas and I’m very grateful to everyone for their welcome support. George Ballentyne came along to talk about the excitement of Richard III’s reburial and the huge media coverage that will be present in the city – as well as the opportunities for writers that come with a media frenzy. Exciting times lie ahead…

February 2015

A mixture of snow and frost meant that this meet up turned into a sort of hotch-potch of the sort that should never be mentioned again. It mainly consisted of me door-watching from the back of the cafe to spot anyone vaguely familiar. After thirty minutes I gave up, to find myself meandering the streets, filling the well with stories. A morning still well spent! But two people did narrowly miss me, so thanks and sorry to Maria and Richard Cox, who battled the February cold only to find themselves with no host.

January 2015

Our first meet up of the month was filled with a feeling of ‘learning how to behave in the real world’ as many of us had been locked up indoors with family, or at the mercy of our laptops reaching never-ending milestones with our writing. It was good to catch up with Mahsuda, Divya and Richard Sheehan and meet up with newbie Shehzad Qureshi – who’s new to Leicester.
As is inevitable in the presence of a newbie, there was another round of introductions, and lots of curious questions which made for interesting chat.

December 2014

A fab end to 2014 with Carol, Jayne, Imran, Tim, Mahsuda, Hafsha, Richard and Honor. We shared our published collections and heard all about Tim’s residency at Belvoir Castle.

November 2014

Wow. What a fab meet up. A change of venue saw us all making our way to what seems like a much better fit for writers (did you spot the books hanging from the light fittings?) And they had some good cake too.
I’m sorry I stole the best seat in the house, next to Mahsuda Magic (official name from now on) and we all joined in to celebrate her recent successes at SI Leeds Prize and Bristol Short Story Prize (she won both, in case you didn’t know). We voiced our anger at C4’s Make Leicester British which didn’t seem to represent our wonderful city in the way we’d hoped, or reflected in any way the city we know and love. We spoke about our latest works, NaNoWriMo, and new projects – like Leicester’s 1st Festival of New Writing which is in the planning for Spring next year. We shared book covers and advice, talked about the categorisation of writers / and YA. We rambled and roamed. There was lots of cake and as Richard Cox points out four men – let’s see if we can beat that next month.

October 2014

A lively session with myself, Lea, Carol, Sarah, Ros, Mahsuda, Hafsha – and Richard who said: ‘We need more men in this group!’
The conversation moved fairly swiftly from writing classes, to self publishing to local paid writing opportunities. We also spent time discussing our own work and we were all of course, eager to hear from Carol about her sell-out show. It never ceases to amaze me just how much local talent there is locally and how inspiring it is to be part of a group who (despite full time jobs/ cuts / and life) continue to do something creative.

September 2014

After the Summer break it was refreshing to be in the company of an enthusiastic and busy group of writers and editors. Richard Sheehan – freelance copy editor shared his experiences of running an editing workshop for the TLC and the fantastic response he received. We talked about the Everybody’s Reading Festival and the forthcoming Literary Leicester – both fantastic events supporting literature activity in Leicester. We talked self-publishing and family life with Rosalind Adam (author of the children’s book of Richard III). We shared writer-ly experiences of trying to secure work and the joys of working with a publisher and agent with Sagheer Afzal.

July 2014

As our final meet up before the Summer break we were joined by lots of writers. Karen told us about a book she’s published to help students tackle those all important UCAS applications, and how the journey took her to being asked to write one for Loughborough uni. Richard bought in a copy of his book (now published) and news of his launch at Scarthins – which we all now want to visit! We brought more writers together, as Alison and Katherine discussed details of writer groups in Loughborough. Mahsuda shared details of a couple of events she was planning on attending that very day (Word / Leicester uni New Writing Centre). It was lovely to see lots of creative buzz and to hear about the ever growing community of writers.

June 2014

Our first evening meet up was a relaxed affair sharing the highs (producing good work) and lows (not getting enough (?) opportunities our way). We talked about the Soul2Sole commissions and love & heartbreaks (actual love, not even about writing). Cynthia arrived with David and they told us about the film club they were going to after the meet up – (who meet on Wednesdays 7pm at Phoenix Square and are always looking for writers to work with).

May 2014

For a while it was just Richard Cox and I talking about journalism and his journey to publication. Then we were joined by Vikram who blew us both away with his poetry. Vikram only learned to speak English after he arrived in the UK and the transition wasn’t an easy one and this inspires his poems. Not long after Honour and Cynthia joined us and the conversation steered from writing to screen-writing with some sound advice from Honour about dealing with rejection. All in all a wonderful meet up that definitely left me feeling like getting back into writing.

April 2014

Newbie Richard talked to us about his first novel which he described as a vanity project – (but I would prefer to say self published) and the pains of being edited. We shared our experiences of the recent conferences (Writers Conferences/Self Publishing Conferences) and the highs and lows of both of them. We broke off into little groups to talk about our own projects and writing leaving us with a renewed sense of energy to tackle those mounting/ but not complete-as-yet writing projects.

March 2014

Lots of new writers attended the meet up in March – brought along by Alison who we hadn’t seen in a while. We all talked about the commissions and how fantastic it was to have Leicester writers awarded for creating new pieces of work (well done to Irfan, Divya and Carol) and there was more good news and all round celebration of Mahsuda’s recent success in the Mslexia Novel comp. We spent some time looking through the proof of Margaret’s novel which will be launched at the States of Independence on the 15th – good luck. We talked about the Twitterverse and the death of the novelist’s life – not too convinced it was all together a bad thing – after all we all have jobs and we all find the time to write (or try!)
David brought along a copy of his children’s book which he is recently self-published with roaring success.
The meet ups give us a chance to reflect on what can sometimes be a frustrating, confusing, isolating time, bringing together like minded individuals who are always ready to support and encourage. It’s great to spend time in the company of such a lovely bunch of writers 🙂

Feb 2014

The first 2014 meet up saw loads of writers come together. There was a little hesitation at first, a mixture of nerves or just an awkwardness that comes with firsts, I could not tell. We talked about forthcoming plays at Upstairs at the Western, the Bill Overton Prize deadline, the plethora of events for writers: Writers Conf, Self Publishing conf and States of Independence. As there were many of us we broke off into little groups and chatted about our own writing, trying as we do, to make sense of what it is we’re all trying to do. I took time to welcome Katherine, a newbie to the group. We talked about self-publishing, publishing and writer envy. It was an insightful discussion into the creative mind – knowing what works, going crazy thinking you’re no good, etc… a common path I’ve come to share on these meet ups. We also talked about the need to bring a variety of programmes for writers, to perhaps have better influence over the agencies who are supposed to be developing us, and telling them what we need so they can support us better. I intend on inviting some of these bods to future meet ups so we can do just that.

December 2013

The December meet up was attended by lots of old and new faces (14 or so writers). There was a lovely pre-holiday buzz in the air and we talked Sci-Fi and Fantasy (thanks to Imran for helping me find my way into a Feminist Utopian novel!!) We talked erotica and self-publishing and all things Leicester Writers Club.

November 2013

The November meet up was attended by Richard, Tim, Rebecca, Mahsuda, Shahida, Margaret and myself. This time we talked new jobs (mine) forthcoming Writing events and the continued dis-fragmentation of Leicester’s literary scene. I shared plans for a writers hub of sorts, but with anything that needs to tick boxes and funding, just dealing with red tape has proved problematic. So instead we poured our efforts in sharing successes (Mahsuda’s recently been longlisted for the Mslexia Novel comp, Margaret’s landed a publisher for her trilogy) and failures to write anything at all (Richard and I were guilty of being too busy to write).

October 2013

Our October meet up was insightful. We talked about radio appearances (my fear!) and rambling our way through. Ros shared her experience of doing a radio interview in a van. Kerry talked us through the poetry prize set up in memory of Professor Bill Overton and I gave away books. There was a bit of confusion about location and we ended up back in the Curve – so I think it’s best to keep it that way for future meet ups.

September 2013

Our September meet up was attended by Margaret – ex-President of LWC, Irfan, Richard, Cynthia, Mahsuda, Alison and Hafsha – we talked about what we’ve been doing over the summer (writing/Arvon/planning/failing to get organised/house-moves). I asked about self-censorship and whether as writers we feel the Rushdie affair has influenced how we write, what we say etc… Margaret shared some fascinating experiences (of being told what she should and shouldn’t be writing about from an agent no less!) and we muddled our way through a difficult conversation. We talked about Leicester writers again – and I promised to set upwww.leicesterwrites.co.uk to showcase and amplify Leicester’s literature community. We broke into little groups to have our own conversations and a couple of hours drifted in a bubble of creative energy…

August 2013

Our August meet was attended by mostly new faces (to the group). Joining me was Rosalind Adam – children’s writer and someone I’ve known for a while via Twitter, Rebecca Abrahams of Kala Kahani, Sarah Eaton – from my Amplified days now of Leicester Mercury and hoping to delve into fiction soon, as well as Cynthia Rodriguez. Joining us was president of the Leicester Writers Club, Yevgeny Salisbury. We talked at length about Leicester’s fragmented literature scene – though vibrant seemed disparate and silo-ed from everything and everyone else (and the fact none of us seemed to know about one another also went some way to prove this) We talked self publishing – should we or not, with me suggesting that it just seems like an easy route (but then as a publisher I know how hard the process is too!) We then moved on to talk deep breath Fifty Shades – it came up in a legitimate discussion about discoverability and how good fiction will always find an audience!!

July 2013

Our July meet was attended by lots of familiar faces. New to the group this time were Shruti and Rakesh Parmar. Shruti has recently finished her dissertation in creative writing and is taking the brave move of writing full time. She’s joining Mahsuda at an Arvon course (organised by Inscribe) in the summer which is partly funded by Writers East Midlands development scheme. Sounds like a great way to kick start the year.
Initially we shared some depressing stories, with Irfan Master demanding happier ones.
Richard Sheehan’s been busy editing new titles and will be attending a Writers & Artists How to Get Published day which sounded amazing (Booker Prize winner, Howard Jacobson will be giving a talk!)
Carol Leeming steered a brief discussion about Leicester’s City of Culture bid. She stressed the importance of getting artists to have their say on what they’d like to see or support or even take the lead on organising events which inspired us all to take action.
Details of the Leicester City of Culture bid here>>> http://www.leicestercityofculture2017.co.uk/cityofculture.aspx

June 2013

It was great to see so many writers at our second event.
It was good to see Margaret again – I met her a while ago at an E-publishing seminar hosted by Creative Leicestershire and Leicester Writers Club (of which she was president, at the time) we briefly chatted about our novels before I found myself introduced to plenty of new faces – Karen, Linda, Alison, Bali, Terry and Peter. Linda and I talked about how easy it is to tell other people to follow their dreams. I recommended reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as a way of unblocking, and putting words on paper. Alison bought the book many years ago, but only read the first chapter and began working on her morning pages. I’ve been working through the book on and off since last Summer and have found it invaluable to build up the confidence and guts to finish my first novel. It’s helped me understand all the psychology (and fear) behind avoiding the work.
It was not long before we were joined by Kerry Featherstone and we chatted about teaching creative writing. Linda added, how best not to teach creative writing which lead to some amusing answers from all.
Mahsuda and I reflected on our experience at the recent NTU un-conference A Dialogue on British Asian writing and whether race and ethnicity have a place, when talking about literature – does the term British Asian stifle creativity? I felt there was so much more to say at the event but not enough time. Alison suggested to Kerry we have another chance to do this – at Loughborough. He mentioned a literary salon but before long we were swept up by another conversation.
From what I saw the event was filled with energy and several stimulating conversations, I’m sure some or all left with an inspired moment. I was sad I didn’t get a chance to speak to everyone. Tim made a flying visit.
Later, after most had left, Carol steered a conversation about her work, asking Mahsuda, Will, Peter, Richard and myself questions about how best to write prose, plotting and first person vs third person narrative. This discussion was particularly useful in understanding the creative writing process, something that we sometimes leave behind when we get bogged down by word count and deadlines.
We parted company with Carol suggesting we use the next event to have a wider discussion (in this relaxed and informal setting) about Leicester’s City of Culture bid and literature.
I hope to see you at the next event, in the meantime good luck to Will and the other East Midland writers shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award. The prize will be awarded on 20th June at Barnsdale Lodge as part of the Oakham Festival (details of that here should you like to go along) http://www.oakhamfestival.co.uk/)

May 2013

Our first meet up of writers working in and around Leicestershire was nothing short of extraordinary. There was myself and six other writers (Tim, Mahsuda, Divya, Kerry, Irfan and Richard) basking under the glorious sunshine (or rather sitting in the cafe at Curve, Leicester). I brought bread (a handmade sultana bread) and Divya bought some chocolates from her recent trip to Germany (which were equally delicious!).
The conversation varied from what we’re all working on at the moment to how best to write a synopsis (Kerry’s advice is that people get it wrong because they summarise the story, what a synopsis should be is tell you the meaning of the story, what the story is about…) There were lots of other insightful bits and a discussion about e-books, to the power of book bloggers and the rise of the e-reader.
Later, Bhavit (founder of the South Asian Literature Festival) came along and told us about his plans to bring his London festival to Leicester. We all thought that was a super idea, and of course, would love to support it.
The meet up was refreshing, a relaxed and informal meet up with no pressure to share work or read. I found it was a pleasant mix of learning new things and reflecting on my own work. It was great to meet like minded people and I confess I didn’t want it to end so I’ve decided to make it a monthly event.
Typically we’ll aim to meet monthly on the first Tuesday, at the Curve feel free to bring along a guest, and invite every writer you know. The next one happens to be in June (when I’ll be on holiday!) so I’ve put it in the diary for the 11th June instead.
I hope you’ll be there and help spread the word.