I thought I’d given up teaching. Well, almost. Even though I loved it, I felt my time as a teacher coming to an end. I was jaded perhaps, and I was protective of my writing time. But then along came Comma Press and whispered devilishly at my ear and before I knew it I’d agreed to tutor their short story course in Newcastle. The teacher in me was secretly energised. The writer in me sighed and fretted.

That was 2016. The course began in January of this year, (well organised and supported by Comma) one session a month until June – 4 down, 2 to go. So what of my teacher and writer selves, what has become of them, what do they think?

I’m pleased to say, the writer in me has stopped fretting. I always like to write with the group if I can, and last night I wrote the end of significant story. What a bonus!  I wasn’t expecting to but I should have known that it’s impossible to work with a group like this and for it not to impact and benefit your own work. Who, after all can resist the charge and energy of twelve writers, scribbling away, intensely focused on the page?

But perhaps the biggest payoff for the writer in me, comes from the reading.  Reading is, after all, the writers apprenticeship and as I read month by month with the group I still find myself inspired by the likes of Kevin Barry,  Breece D J Pancake, by Alice Munroe, Daisy Johnson, Lydia Davis etc etc….and I hope that the group feels the same. I hope that we have read as writers and learned what we can from the greats.

The teacher in me has made a full recovery.  I’ve worked with a lot of groups in my time in a whole lot of different places from library to prison cell, from prefab classroom to university but I’ve encountered no better group than this. Yes, I got lucky. I struck gold. Let’s face it in any group there is usually ‘the pain’ – the dominant, difficult, demanding member. Not this group! Or there’s someone you worry about who sits like a ghost at the feast, saying nothing, producing nothing. Not this group! It’s been my luck to land twelve serious, talented writers, a keen, committed group, respectful of each other and willing to put up with me once a month. Now that can’t be bad. Thank you, Comma Press.

You can read group member Clay Lister’s blog posts about the group HERE

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