|A Terrible Day in London|
In spite of the carnage, I'm in the Bear pub with a few writer pals. We'd arranged to meet and we thought, 'what will we do if we cancel - just sit at home moping'. Fear's like that - it causes you either to have ridiculous, exaggerated ideas of 'what could happen' or to freeze, and start skulking about like a hibernating bear trying for entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
|Heroes & Villains, since 1714|
The Bear's a great pub for writers, right on the edge of Chinatown and dating back to 1714 - before, frankly, there was a Chinatown. It's had a fair number of famous heroes and villains in its list of historical customers. We like the villains best.
We swap confessions about how little writing we did over the holiday period and scrawl our fears on a beer mat. The seven biggest writing fears, according to my latest fave rave 'Your Writing Coach' by Jurgen Wolff are: 'The fear of rejection, the fear that it won't be good enough, the fear of success, the fear of revealing too much, the fear that you have only one book in you, the fear that you are too old and finally, the fear of being overwhelmed by research.'
|We scrawl our fears on a beer mat|
Twitter revealed even more - 'don't know how to end my story,' replies one follower. 'You've got it lucky - don't know how to begin mine,' another grumps. Sensing that the war's about to go viral, we bring out our manuscripts, sheepishly at first. Within moments, we're hooked - desperate to hear more about the characters we've missed over the holidays. Dan's writing a dark, dark story as usual, and Rob's still on his never-ending novella about his hero Vordek's unlikely conquest of the fair sex. Ruth's story of a time-travelling witch has spanned another few centuries whilst Ivy's memoir set in the Port of London, early 20th century, thrills and horrifies us.
We're a supportive lot but very frank. 'You know he's going to be a virgin all his life,' Brad tells Rob, which makes Rob blush painfully. We've all guessed who the real Vordek is. 'Do you think they'd just carry on eating if the cross-bow had speared the servant-boy at dinner?' We wonder. Ruth sucks her pen and agrees that the scene is unrealistic. 'I'll have them take a swig of scrumpy after,' she decides. Her West Country accent is always deeper when she thinks of scrumpy jack (cider, for the uninitiated). We all howl, and so do the rest of the customers in the bar. Our writerly gatherings aren't designed to attract attention, situated as they are in a quiet snug at the back on the quietest night of the week, but invariably, they do.
|Ruth's Notebook & Pen|
|The Old London Dock Gates|
It's time to go, and we do it with hugs, and quiet gratitude for the companionship of those of kind. When you've got that, writer or not, fear seems a petty foe indeed.
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