After Suzi, Francesca and Sandra Taylor introduced themselves, we started with a question and answer session where we all revealed what we thought stopped us from writing. There were various reasons from the 12 attendees, but time, our own inner critic and social networking seemed very popular. We then wrote for a short time about whatever came into our heads.
Suzi then told us that Julia Cameron, creative writing guru, recommends that we should write for half an hour and Edward St Aubyn advises we make a friend of our inner critic. Then she circulated a sheet of paper with questions like:
5 names you like, 3 Places you know well, Jobs you have done, your fears and a time in your life when you were un/happy.
Suzi then circulated another sheet that had ten first lines from Picador novels. We had to write the next line for all of them. After this exercise, Suzi revealed where the first lines were from. They were from several novels such as Claire Messud's The Last Life, Leanne Hern's Across the Nightingale Floor and poets like Brian Collins.
Suzi recommended an exercise at our own peril - write your own autobiography without emotions, just fact and tap the energy from the early years. She also suggested writing our first drafts by hand as it is how you see the archaelogy of your writing and, as Tony Harrison said, if you can't read it, sometimes you come up with better words.
In the Q&A section, Francesca revealed that books that are chosen from agents, are ones that they love and think they can sell.
After the attendees filled in a review sheet with our contact details, the event finished with a networking session.