I've just come back from a few days teaching a residential course on writing commercial women's fiction. It was held in the Oxfordshire countryside, at a manor house which is over 700 years old in parts. Now it's a Quaker retreat, and it's a quiet, contemplative, inspiring place which I love returning to.
But I was most inspired by the authors on the course. Most of them were working on their first novel, though some were on their second or third; they were all looking to learn the techniques and craft that would help them get their work published. It was my job to teach them.
I'm crazy with work right now; I've got a 500-page novel to revise, with a tight deadline and a lot of research to feed in. But it's just so good to spend time with hard-working, passionate people, talking about reading and writing. I love going through the basics of our craft: the essentials of character, conflict, pacing and style. Talking about process, the high points and the low points. I know all this stuff already, or I wouldn't be teaching it, but every time I do teach it, I learn something new.
At several moments we were talking about someone's work and suddenly the air fizzed with ideas. That weird and wonderful alchemy when creativity and talent and graft pool together.
I'm feeling energised and ready to get back to my own work, now, and that tight deadline.
What's helped you to learn the most, recently?
Come back on Sunday, when Anna Louise Lucia will be posting.