Tuesday 21 November 2017

Diary of an aspiring chick lit author

Desperate housewives' fears prove unfounded, says Lizzie O'Shaughnessy

It turns out that Valerie, who responded to my writing group SOS on Gumtree, lives in a palatial gaff in Donnybrook -- you know, one of those red-brick, Victorian jobs with peaks and turrets and three storeys.

I was so busy gawping around open-mouthed that I didn't catch her husband's name -- he was there in the background, making tea and wearing a sweater vest. I asked for a glass of water and he took a clean one out of the dishwasher, filled it and handed it to me. "Not those glasses!" Valerie was suddenly all over the situation, swatting the hubby's hand and getting a glass from a cupboard that looked exactly the same as the first one.

I smiled at the husband in what I imagined to be a sympathetic manner and -- I'm not sure if I imagined this -- he winked at me.

I didn't have too much time to ponder 'the wink' though because Valerie ushered me into the 'drawing room' where the rest of the 'girls' were -- ie women the same age as Valerie.

They were Mary, Margaret, Marian and I think the other one's name was Dympna but Mary was cackling about something during the introductions so it could have been Deirdre or Deborah.

Only one of the 'girls' was having a glass of wine -- Mary -- "because I effing well deserve it". The rest were on tea.

I sat down on an antiquey-looking chair, took out my notebook and a pen and looked around expectantly.

"The fecker!" Mary was saying to Margaret. "Wednesday night is your night for golf."

I was having the dreaded feeling that this group was not going to be something I'd be returning to. I'd decided that it was already looking like it'd turn out to be a ramped up version of Desperate Housewives, Donnybrook-style, when Valerie cleared her throat and looked meaningfully at Mary and Margaret. Marian was smiling at something on her phone and Dympna was staring into space.

"Well, girls. We're very lucky to have found a new, like-minded member." She turned to me.

"The group's only been going a few weeks, so you'll slot right in."

I smiled and fiddled with the clicky top on my pen.

"Right, girls. None of us is going to write a bestseller and conquer Cecelia Ahern's sales by sitting around bitching about our other halves, much as we'd like to do it."

Mary made a face at this and took another slug of her wine. I feel that she won't last the pace. Valerie handed out photocopies of the opening paragraph of Watermelon by Marian Keyes -- a chick-lit classic -- and gave us eight minutes to write another page.

"Whatever comes into your head, don't think about it too much," she told us.

She then proceeded to tell Mary hers was "pedestrian" and Margaret that hers was "derivative".

She said mine "really has something there". I love her -- Bree was always my favourite Housewife!

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