‘I’ve been asked to give a talk to a writing group in South Essex,’ I say over coffee.
‘That’s great!’ Jen exclaims and her dog, Alfie appears from beneath the table, excited by her enthusiasm.
‘But I don’t know what I have to say about writing that would be of any interest.’
‘You’re a confident speaker. I still remember your menopause talk.’ Jen takes a fan out of her bag and wafts it in unison with the wagging of Alfie’s tail.
I laugh at the silly pair.
‘It’s okay talking about something I have expertise in, but writing – I’m hardly Steven King. Mind you it is a paid gig,’ I comment.
‘Ah, money talks. You must be able to think of something to say. You blog, you’ve written a couple of novels and umpteen shorts.’
‘Three novels actually.’
‘Well there you are then,’ Jen pats Alfie and mops her forehead with a folded napkin.
‘I suppose I’ve done quite a few short stories but only had a couple of successes, and the blog has few followers.’
‘I follow it.’
‘You do, thanks, but I don’t break even on the book publishing,’ I bleat.
‘Self-indulgent twaddle! People love your books.’ Jen pats my arm and the dog whines.
‘There’s always a note of surprise in their muted praise,’ I mutter.
‘You need to learn to love yourself – love yourself as your neighbour and her dog.’
‘I’ve got an idea, I could do The Ten Commandments for writers.’
‘Go on then, give it a go.’
‘Thou shalt love your writing and yourself, ‘ I begin.
‘Thou shalt write something every day and not give up. Thou shalt have a tough skin, so as not to fear rejection but learn from it,’ I continue.
‘Yes – persistence and resilience.’
‘Thou shalt not covet the success of others,’ I quickly add.
Alfie settles and Jen nods. ‘Carry on.’
‘Thou shalt not feel compelled to do NaNoWriMo every year,’ I chuckle.
‘Good. You’re always a pain in November.’
‘Gee thanks. Thou shalt heavily disguise characters based on friends, neighbours, and their dogs,’ I continue.
‘I’ve always wondered which character was me.’
‘State secret,’ I whisper to Alfie.
‘My turn now – Thou shalt be particularly nice to your beta readers and buy their drinks and coffee.’
‘Agreed. How about Thou shalt be kind to other writers and supportive of the writing community on social media without being sucked into scurrilous threads.’
‘Good one. How many’s that?’
I count on my fingers. ‘Eight.’
‘Two to go – Thou shalt back up your work on the computer so it doesn’t get lost. I remember the tizz you got into with your first novel.’ Jen fanned her armpits.
‘Stop that. I’ve got number ten – Thou shalt enjoy writing and have fun.’
‘Exactly, so now you can do the talk,’ Jen announces.
‘No chance – my Eleventh Commandment is Thou shalt learn to say “no”. No talk, I’ll just blog. Coffee’s on me.’