Sean Lusk and his cohort of CBC writers continue to support each other five years after their three-month novel-writing course finished. Sean and his writing buddies still critique drafts, celebrate publications and now they’re even Zooming each other throughout lockdown.
We fifteen prospective authors met one April evening back in 2015 to begin our three-month CBC novel-writing course, and it hasn’t finished yet. Urged by Anna Davis to make pub time after the evening sessions, we dutifully obeyed. When the course ended with drinks, high hopes and meetings with agents in the Curtis Brown offices on Haymarket, we knew we needed to find ways to keep the support, commiseration, celebration and laughter going.
We began by holding first-Tuesday-of-the month sessions on the top floor at Waterstones, Piccadilly, each time sharing a chapter or extract from three works-in-progress, giving feedback, and swapping notes about progress (or lack of it) with agents and publishers. Several of us have taken further courses on-line with CBC and taken advantage of CBC’s brilliant mentoring scheme. We’ve been on two writing retreats at the wonderful Retreats for You in rural Devon, and graduated from Waterstones to literary tea shop Teatulia in Covent Garden, created by one of our group, Ahsan Akbar, who in his ‘spare time’ also runs the Dhaka Literary Festival. Christmas get-togethers have entailed Secret Santa mix-ups, and we’ve also been to see group member Robert Holtom’s hilarious plays, including The Cluedo Club Killings at the Arcola.
As for publishing successes, we’ve had a few with more to come, including Ella Dove with Five Steps to Happy (Orion, July 2019), Charlotte Northedge with The House Guest (Harper Collins, due Spring 2021). Along the way I won the Manchester Fiction Prize for one of my short stories. Most of us have finished the novels we were working on in 2015, (often several times over!), and many of us have moved on to a second or even third.
Now we find ourselves tumbled into the Coronavirus days. There aren’t too many things to recommend a lockdown, but this month’s Zoom meet with the CBC class of spring 2015 has been one of them. It means that those of us who have travelled not-so-far (Greece), or very far (Melbourne – well done Victoria Halliday for joining the call at 5am!) or too far (Mozambique proved a step too far internet-wise) have been able to join in, too, in a video date that more closely resembled a voting panel for Eurovision (G’day Australia … Giassas Greece … come in Camden).
Lockdown or no lockdown, we’ve vowed to do it again … and again.
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