Thursday, 31 March 2011
I am sure writing groups
are helpful to some people but I do not belong to one. I made tentative inquiries about the local group. It meets in the library but it was clear that the group does not welcome newcomers and they are not interested in writing for children. I was told that this writing for children was "not really writing". They apparently are "serious about writing". They work on "poetry, short stories, plays and that sort of thing". Was anyone writing a novel? Oh yes, but definitely not anything for children. Oh, right. Writers for children not welcome? Writers for children not really writers? I slunk off feeling very unwelcome and did not bother them again. My father has a degree in English literature but his latter year reading tastes tend to the likes of Ian Rankin and Peter James or a new book of jokes. He has long since stopped reading Evelyn Waugh, James Joyce or Patrick White. He has read some children's literature in recent years. I will put something in front of him and say, "You might like that." He usually does. He will not read mine. He says he would be "too close". I agree. It would be unfair to ask him. My siblings are not interested. My local adult friends are not interested either. They do not read children's books. The Whirlwind reads and, with devastating honesty, tells me she likes things or does not like things but she cannot tell me why. A friend read three chapters and likes - but is it because she is a friend and her judgment is clouded by friendship? Someone I have only met once read the whole thing and said she enjoyed it - but she was brought up on the classics and never read children's books even as a child. Do writing groups become friendship groups too? Does judgment get clouded in those? Are they the best places to find an honest critical assessment of writing? I suspect that some are and some are not. There is the internet of course. There are groups on the internet. I have put a tentative paw around the door of some and have yet to find a group that I would feel comfortable with, a group that takes the business of writing for children seriously. I might find something one day. I do wonder about writing groups though. They are popular. They must serve a purpose. I wonder about them and then I wonder about professional expertise instead. Maybe I should just go on trying to write?