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Writers' groups: the next generation

It’s a joy to me that my grandsons love books. Daniel, nearly 12, reads voraciously;

James, 10, has a growing appetite and Michael, 6, still has to be read to, but knows all his

favourites by heart.

Inventor, architect and novelist feature on Daniel’s list of ‘things I might be’. James wants

to be a game ranger. Michael’s current goal is to be a star gymnast. Time will tell, but

whatever paths they choose, these three will also be lifelong readers and storytellers.

‘What happened to that story you were writing about the squirrels and the moles, Nana?’

‘Oh, I never finished it, Jamie. I really should get back to it.’

‘Well, you don’t have to. But here’s one thing I’ve learned: if you want to be a good author,

you have to focus. Daniel keeps starting stories, but he doesn’t get very far. That’s how I


James is right. Daniel has plenty of time to learn his craft – that he is starting so young is

reason enough for celebration. But I don’t have time on my side. If I were a ‘pantser’ (one

who gallops away with an idea to see where it might lead) I might have finished that story

by now, but magazine journalism, which embeds the need for structure and a set length,

has made me into more of a ‘plotter’. I do a lot of mulling before I get the job done. Too

much, in this case, as a 10-year-old has gently pointed out.

We all have our writing styles, rhythms and rituals, and that’s one of the stimulating things

about writers’ groups – learning how others work. Some have an admirable daily

discipline; some write themselves into a stupor while their creative fires burn; some stop-

start; some only write under pressure, the night before we meet. Together, we prove that

there are many routes to the destination: that glorious feeling of having written.

I love it that the desire to write is flourishing in the next generation of my family, that my

bookcase holds appeal for children as well as adults, and that my living room is a place

where stories are planted, nurtured and grown, by and for readers and writers of all ages.


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