Friday, 7 December 2012

The T Party

Welcome to my interview with David Gullen, from The T Party.


Hello David.  Can you please tell us a bit about your writing group?
Hello Rebeccah, our writing group is The T Party (  and we  have been meeting since 1994.  We are primarily a genre fiction critique group, and meet in central London once a month on a Saturday afternoon .
How many members, on average, does your group have?
We’ve grown to around thirty members, and expect around fifteen to eighteen attending each meeting.  About a half a dozen members are published novelists, more have agents, and others are just starting out.  Some members are also successful short story writers. 
Who are you and what is your role within the group?
My name is David Gullen, and I’m just an ordinary member of the group.  You can find more about me on my website -
I'm not sure anyone who attends a writing group can be deemed 'ordinary'!  How are your sessions structured?
We start with general announcements of writerly news, good and bad – sales, rejections, interviews etc.  The main part of the meeting is for critiques and brainstorming and this lasts for two to three hours.   After that we usually do by what writers seem to enjoy most when they’re not writing – leaning on the bar and talking about writing.

We use the Milford Method for critiquing.  Work is sent out in advance, and we meet to discuss.  Everyone in turn gets up to three or four minutes to give their opinion, with the author responding at the end, along with some general discussion. 
What types of things do you cover in your group?
Our main aim is to help members get their fiction published.  We do this by commenting on their writing, sharing market information and other advice, and doing that other important thing – mutual support.  There are a lot of ups and downs in writing, and some long waits too.
Indeed there are, and it's always comforting to share these anxieties with others who are, or who have been, in the same situation.  What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
Most years we run a week-long writing holiday, and also a weekend away.  The weekend usually includes some workshops or group activities. the week-long holiday is for mainly for writing.  It’s all very informal – you could just have a holiday if you wanted, but most people like the idea of a whole week writing – and talking about writing.
We’ve also run an open critique session at Eastercon, an SF/F convention
Then there’s our annual winter meal, where we celebrate the year just gone, anticipate the next, and also invite a few friends in the writing world who aren’t T Party members.
That all sounds amazing.  I now wish I was a member of your group!  What genres do the members of your group write?
We’re primarily a genre fiction group – SF, Fantasy and some horror.  That’s just because of where we originated.  These days we also have mainstream thriller, erotica, and other genres.  If you write it, we’ll critique it, but there’s little experience in the group with some forms - literary fiction, scripts and screenplays for example.
Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
We’ve produced two anthologies so far – Gravity’s Angels, and Deep Ten.   
Where do you get your ideas/writing prompts from?
Well, there’s this little old lady in Schenectady

Ideas are anywhere and everywhere.  Sometimes we run idea generation workshops – these can be fun, and can also generate some good stories.  However, ideas are not stories, they’re just ideas. 
What's the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Different advice is appropriate at different times, but I think the truism ‘Writers write’ is what it all comes down to in the end.   
What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
I wouldn’t claim any special insights.  You can’t edit a blank page.  If you don’t finish it, you can’t submit it.

Writers Write.

The best advice I gave to myself was to make writing became part of my routine.  Treat it seriously, and try to have fun.  Always try harder. 
Do you have guest speakers at your group?
We’ve had a good number of writers, agents, and publishers visit.  Usually it’s a Q&A session, one or two of the writers have run mini-workshops.   We usually have two or three speakers a year, in addition to our monthly workshops.
Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
If anyone has an idea and there’s enough interest, then it generally happens.   You’ll probably end up organising it though. 
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
Anyone can join if you’ve published fiction and are willing to join in the primary activity of the group, which is critiquing other member’s work.  If you’ve never been published, we ask you submit a sample of your writing first.

We also ask people to sit on a couple of meetings, so they can see how we work.  There are many ways to run a writing group, our way isn’t for everyone, but it probably is if you want to be a better writer and get published.
There’s more information on our web site. 
Thank you very much, David. 

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