Today, I’m delighted to introduce Kitty Campanile, an indie author who has recently published a novel set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike. When I wrote my own ‘miners’ strike’ novel in 2012, I was surprised at how underexplored in fiction the strike was, particularly from the female perspective; it was a driving force in the decision to write the book. It looks like this is changing. Anyway, Kitty’s here to talk about writing groups and their benefits, in particular the support she received. Over to you, Kitty.
Writing can be a solitary occupation, and for a self published author it really is a one man show – unless you can find a little help from your friends. I have been going to Woking Writers’ Circle for nearly two years now, having bumped into one of the members at an open mic event.
We meet once a month. Between seven and a dozen members turn up and we’ll each have a ten minute slot to read and get feedback. Each month there is a homework which can get inspiration flowing, or you can bring in whatever you are working on for criticism and feedback. We have a range of writers from a range of backgrounds. Poets, essayists, short story writers and novelists with very different styles all come together. I have learned as much from critically listening to the work of others as from the critique of my own work.
As well as feedback, the encouragement is valuable. Mighty Like a Rose nearly wasn’t written. It started out as a NaNoWriMo project, by the end of November 2013 I had a few chapters and a lot of self doubt. It’s rare for me to not take anything to writers’ circle but I just couldn’t write anything. I explained to the group I had started a novel but wasn’t happy with what I had so far. Greg, one of the Writer’s Circle stalwarts, offered to read what I had and gave me enough encouragement to continue with the project, as well as line-by line feedback on what I had written. Although I didn’t take every chapter in, each month the others would ask how it was going, how many words, how long until I was finished. When I did bring a pivotal chapter in to read, I got useful feedback from my colleagues and was able to talk more about the story in the pub afterwards! Having a group of people take an interest kept my enthusiasm going, there’s a temptation (especially at the editing stage) to put a long-term project on the back burner and start something shiny and new. Although I still worked on short pieces, the group helped me stay focussed. Aside from the Writers’ Circle, I have called on more informal groups to help. I got a few woman from an online feminist knitting group to beta read – it was important for me to get international readers as I was concerned the Yorkshire dialogue might not be understandable, or that I might be assuming too much knowledge of the miners’ strike. Another friend (a member of my ukulele band who has published before) proof-read all 90,000 words for a pint (which I haven’t bought him yet). Indebted as I am to this eclectic group of friends, I couldn’t have finished the book without the Writers’ Circle.
Mighty Like a Rose, a tale of love, friendship and solidarity, set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, is available in paperback or as an e-book from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mighty-Like-Rose-Thornethorpe-Saga/dp/1507524749/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1423092336&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=kitty+campanile
Find out more about Woking Writers’ Circle at https://wokingwriters.wordpress.com/
Thanks so much for popping by, Kitty and best of British with the book.