I went to my women’s writing group for the first time a couple of days ago. I was really looking forward to going, but I’d be lying if I said I was relaxed and unruffled. I felt a little apprehensive and definitely felt the flutter of butterflies in my stomach as I approached the theatre. I always tell myself that this is perfectly natural. That what isn’t natural is feeling calm and blasé when you are about to meet a group of perfect strangers for the first time. The usual list of worries: will I fit in, will they like me, will I like them, am I good enough to be here filled my mind as I entered the building.
The lady who runs the group was very welcoming and told me that we were working in the Green Room. “Bloody hell, the Green Room”, I thought “I’ve never been in one of those before! And, if this turns out to be a total disaster, at least I can say ‘I once was in a Green Room you know.’” It was nothing like I imagined. For a start, it wasn’t green. It was also huge. It was more like a staff canteen (in fact the staff do use it as their canteen) then the cool, hip hang out for actors and theatre types I was expecting.
The group itself is quite small. Only half a dozen of us were there, and as I took my seat at one of the many tables (it is so like a staff canteen) I wondered what my fellow writers would be like. I hoped that I would like them and warm to them. I prayed that there wouldn’t be any pretentious types. Please don’t let there be any arrogant, overbearing sorts. I was in luck. They were all very friendly, pleasant and made me feel right at home. They introduced themselves, and talked about how they came to be in the group and the kind of writing they did. This was a real eye-opener.
One of them was a poet. She had written a poem for a previous group project, and discovered a love and talent that she didn’t know she possessed. She is now performing her poetry and thinking of giving up the day job. Another is just about to have the first script-in-hand reading of her first full length play. Two others have taken the theatre’s script-writing course and have gone from writing nothing to monologues, short and full length plays in a short space of time. The other lady was a newbie, like me, and I’m not sure if she felt as awe-inspired and intermediated as I did. How could I ever match up to this?
The lady who runs the group, herself a playwright, then talked about lots of different opportunities that were available from being in the group. From going to see a preview of the theatre’s next play (for free no less!), to courses and other avenues and contacts that she could put you in touch with. She also mentioned trying to get some studio time later in the year so that our work could be run through with actors. I mean real bona fide actors.
As I sat there with my chin practically scrapping the floor, I realised that this was serious stuff. That being part of this group meant that writing would no longer be the thing I played at. That this was the best opportunity I had ever had of giving it my best shot. And this petrified me and excited me at the same time.
I left on a high with my head reeling from all I had heard. On the stairs I passed a very beautiful young lady who said “Hello” to me and gave me a big smile. I recognised her from somewhere and as my brain frantically tried to work out where from I noticed her face peering at me from a poster. She was an actress from on of the Soaps and is the lead in the theatre’s current production of The Wizard of Oz. Her friendly demeanour shattered all my stereotypical preconceptions about attractive actors, and I thought to myself, “Yeah, I’m going to like it here.”