London Writers Club. Evening with Nii Parkes.

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself. ~ Franz Kafka

Perhaps you need to get out more?

If you’re a writer, published or unpublished, (In fact, I see no real distinction between the two, you either write or you don’t.) Then you’ll know how isolating the creative process can be. How you can be so driven by the compulsion to tell your story, that suddenly you realise days have elapsed and you’ve turned into some feral like creature that eats straight from the fridge, ignores your friends calls (at least you hope they’re still your friends) and your only sustenance has been a bronchial sounding coffee pot spluttering out a constant stream of feculent looking rocket-fuel.

It was actually at this point when I realised I needed to get out. And so I did.

Last night was my inaugural visit to a London Writer’s Club event, run by Jacqueline Burns & Kirsty McLachlan of notoriety.
Their idea is to create a community for anyone who has a passion for writing from complete beginners to published authors. A place where writers from all backgrounds can escape the solitude Franz speaks of in a welcoming and educational environment.

Last night’s main event was an evening with Nii Parkes. A writer of poetry and prose, fact and fiction. Nii describes himself as ‘a writer of no fixed format.’ Having spent time as poet-in-residence at the Poetry Café, he has performed his work all over the world. Now he’s the Bookstrust’s online writer-in-residence and author of first full length fiction, Tail of The Blue Bird, which we had the pleasure of listening to excerpts from.

Nii commands the room, filling the atmospheric dimly lit basement of a Soho restaurant with images of a foreign land. Immediately, we are transported into his world. There is something about his voice that makes me want to drink red wine and curl up in a soft blanket. But now is not the time.

Afterwards, there is a Q&A session, focusing mainly on the business side of the craft and how it is necessary to market yourself as a writer, particularly with the spiraling popularity of social media and the often lack-lustre PR pushes of some unnamable publishers.

Some very interesting points were made. Nii admitted he did and is very much still, the ambassador of his own marketing campaign. Setting up a Facebook page for Tail of The Bluebird six months prior to its launch and using social media tools such as blogs to have an ongoing dialogue with his readership. He even asked his Facebook Fans to vote on the colour scheme for his cover! Now that’s what I call some very clever writer/reader interaction.

Meanwhile, sat beside me, real time tweets courtesy of Ben Johncock, (novelist and esteemed member of the Twitteratti) updates the online community @writersclub with all the action. I feel like I’m in a (intelligent) parallel version of the Five Live Studio as questions flood in from an international online writing community and are put straight to Nii with an almost immediately tweeted back response.
It was an important reminder and demonstrable example of how powerful and immediate the dialogue between reader and writer can be; especially when employing the art of social networking.

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