Yes, hard to believe of yours truly, but I was both surprised and chastened tonight, attending a local writers' 'fayre' - a sort of sprawling Meet the Author affair - in Warwick Library. I was asked to come along in early October, during the Warwick Words Festival, and just blithely assumed that it would be a bunch of odd-bods and eccentrics, self-publishing their poems, or biographies of their - even more eccentric - grandfathers, or pamphlets on the history of local churches etc.
So you can imagine how silly I felt, one of only two poets in a room of successful novelists and other writers, sitting there with my two slim volumes, surrounded on all sides by talented and prolific writers. Right opposite my table was the fun and bubbly children's writer, Meg Harper, and beside her Justin Richards, a prolific writer for children, particularly well-known to my husband as a writer of Doctor Who novels and other associated titles. A few tables down there was Rosie Goodwin, with her highly popular novels, and a prestigiously brilliant salesman of his children's fantasy novels, the irrepressible Mark Robson.
There were many others, too numerous to mention, but they included a cluster of sci-fi authors, historians, a brand-new children's poet - whose name I will add when I discover where on earth I've put her book! - and the newly published Jill Fraser, with a substantial novel about life in a former vicarage, 'More Tea, Less Vicar', a fascinating writer with whom I chatted for some half an hour. It was a great evening, truly enjoyable, and a real eye-opener - I simply had no idea how many superb writers we have living here in the Warwickshire area.
So I came home tonight with renewed 'prose' energy, aware that I absolutely must finish putting together my third poetry collection for next summer, but also that I owe it to myself to finish that novel too - still on the back burner, after several years now. It's odd how dispiriting it can feel to have work systematically rejected, but also wonderful how quickly the creative juices can begin flowing again when you get to meet and chat in person with other writers, some of them at the same stage as you, others further ahead, and a few just starting out on that lengthy and often cruel journey to publication.
Onward and upward.