I’d always thought of writing as rather a solitary pursuit. It was just me and my notebook. No-one I knew would have understood. My friends went home after a long day in the office to watch TV and unwind, not spend hours at a computer typing. Sure they enjoyed a good book or film, but did they ever think about what went into writing them? Probably not. They didn’t need to.
Then I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and everything changed. That solitary pursuit that had once made me feel like somewhat of a recluse, became the key to a world of sociability. People brought together by their common quest to create a story so compelling that it just has to be read.
People like me.
Of course it didn’t happen overnight. It started slowly. I joined the RNA facebook group and met Morton S Gray. She was the first fellow Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme member I knew. In one of those ‘isn’t it a small world’ moments, it turned out Morton was part of the Birmingham RNA chapter that I was thinking of joining. I headed off to that first meeting reassured that no matter how out of place I felt, there would at least be one friendly face there. It turned out there were many.
I went back for the next meeting, and the next. I went on courses, attended conferences and pitched my novel to agents and publishers. Being part of the RNA opened doors to events and opportunities that I would never have had otherwise. But mostly, being part of the RNA led me to create friendships that gave me the courage to not let those opportunities pass me by.
I’ve never known a group quite like this one. We’re all striving towards the same goal, yet there’s no undercurrent of rivalry or jealously. Published writers share their wisdom and advice with the newcomers. Writers dreaming of publication critic one another’s work to help each other edge just that little bit closer to making that dream a reality. And we all celebrate when one of us makes it, because we know better than most just how much work went into making it happen.
I’m delighted that Morton, my first friend in the RNA, has made that journey from hopeful dreamer to published writer. Her novel, ‘The Girl on the Beach’, won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition last year and we have all been eagerly waiting for it to be published.
‘The Girl on the Beach’ is out now and I’m thrilled to be able to share my review.