A new writing critique group where cake always matters

This afternoon, I launched a rocket-fresh new writers’ group.

When I arrived in my new home in France, I eagerly searched out existing groups. Like any new relationship, it takes a while to mesh with established groups, so I went to several meetings, full of optimism and using my best networking and charm skills. I dutifully presented my work for critiquing. Now, I’ve hardened up over the past year or so, but I blinked, hard, when one member turned on me and said he hated it. In those words and with fury all over his face.


I took a deep breath and explained about genre writing, the large readership of women’s fiction, etc. etc. He used the H word again. Embarrassment from the facilitator. I persisted over a few more meetings, even volunteering a session on character (Thank you, Arvon), but concluded too many of the personalities in the group were parading their egos. Time to move on…

Dispirited and dejected after several months, I knew none of the groups was right for me. Writing is a visceral, instinctive thing and I should have clicked instantly if a group was right. Alas, no clicks.

I was spoiled after my terrific group in the UK where I  met my critique partner (I blogged about writing buddies here last March.).

So after drinking enough vinegar, I decided to brew my own champagne. A writer friend who had traipsed round some of the groups with me and a colleague with a track record of writing plays and musicals who was starting on her first long fiction met over tea and cake (thanks to Helen of Haddock in the Kitchen) and set up our group. We hope to invite another local writer, an alumnus from UEA, no less, and then set to work.

The buzz from talking, exchanging and communing on an almost telepathic level with other obsessives cannot be beaten. We have our objectives and the next date.

Do you belong to a writing group? How does it enhance your writing?

4 comments to A new writing critique group where cake always matters

  • Hi Alison and thanks for this. I consider myself lucky to belong to an all-women writers’ group called Hookers’ Pen. (Subject of many jokes!) All six of us are published, ranging from local papers to poetry and short story collections and mainstream novels. I value the critiquing, as do the other members. We share success and rejection along with the coffee and chocolate biccies. We meet twice-weekly in term time and range from 40 something to knocking on 70.

    It sounds like you’ve got the beginnings of something good here. All best

  • Well put Alison – you have embraced all we have said in the last few months very well.
    We can only build upwards from here.

  • I too have been to such writing groups. Why do people do that? I’ve come home from sessions in tears and Mr A has reminded me that I don’t have to put myself through it. But it’s important to get some feedback on wip so I did persist and fortunately I too now belong to a small group of writer friends. We meet every month and there’s always lots of helpful writing support (not always positive but never hurtful) plus cake and treats of some sort. One day we’re going to put together a cookery book of all our delicacies.

  • alison

    Feedback is so essential as is how a writer uses it (See previous post!).

    A good group is beyond treasure and we’re determined to be such a one.

    And eat good cake…