Writers’ Circles

Last week I went to a reunion with the folks from my old writers’ circle in Zurich.  Joining the writers’ circle was a very important step in my development as a writer because I was able to prove to myself and to others that I was deadly serious about writing. We were a small, informal group that met once a month to share our work over a glass (or two) of wine. It was a great environment in which to give and receive feedback and I would not have left the group if I hadn’t had to move out of Switzerland.

Now that I’m back in the UK I’ve been looking into alternative writers’ circles here. There are large ones where you pay a membership fee and the meetings take the form of workshops run by professional writers, and smaller ones that meet to chat about anything and everything with a little bit of writing thrown into the mix . Basically,  something for everyone.

I know some authors can be quite sniffy about writers’ circles and claim that they stifle creativity, but I would say don’t dismiss it without trying one out. Feedback on your writing is always useful and surely it is better to get it from other writers rather than from your mum.

I found out about writers’ circles in my area using the internet but I think there are also listings in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearboook. I can’t say for sure because I had to leave my copy behind when I left Switzerland. I did pass it on to someone in the Zurich writers’ circle though so hopfeully it is still in use.

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Six-Word Memoirs

The members of my former (*sniff*) writers’ circle have been working on a challenge inspired by SMITH magazine to write a memoir in only six words. Although I now live too far away to attend the meetings, I thought I would give it a go. The first thing that sprang to mind was:

I wish I were someone else.

Oh dear. That’s not really a memoir anyway. Let’s see if I can do better…

Worked hard, played hard, now sleeping.

Remember everything, will write memoir later.

Started writing age five, still trying.

Cared too much, now not enough.

Did almost everything I wanted to.

Those things are addictive. Happily, writing the first one has led to an unexpected moment of clarity. I googled “I wish I were” to check that it was grammatically correct (“I wish I was” sounds quite plausible) and came across the lyrics for an Oscar Mayer jingle. We don’t have Oscar Mayer wieners here, I guess that is an American thing, but finding the jingle has made sense of a joke on Frasier for me. It was when Lilith and Frasier were trying to win a place for Freddie at an elite school and ended up telling the principal that they had met Golda Meir’s grandson. The principal inquired after his name and Frasier said “Oscar.” “Oscar Mayer?” the principal sneered, and tossed them out on the street.

Obscure Frasier joke now makes sense.