You must gather your party before venturing forth…

One of the things no one talks about much when it comes to writing is just how truly lonely it can be. In the midst of a novel — when you’re constructing scenes and pursuing plot points, it may not feel quite so solitary. After all, you need time and space in order to create, and often your characters do a pretty good job of keeping you company, especially if they’re the particularly attention-seeking type…

But then you finish a draft, and you send it out, and now comes the loneliest part of the entire process, because between finishing a novel and publishing said novel, there can be a whole endless aeon of silence. You wait to hear back from betas, or from your agent, or from editors and publishers who might be interested in buying your stories. You wait for the rejections to come, because they always do and they always will, and all you can do is hope for something other than “no”.

And you wait.

These are the moments, as a writer, where it becomes vitally important to cultivate a community of writers and readers — people who can understand the joy and struggle of both the craft and what comes after. But where to find such a group?

You All Meet in a Tavern Bookshop

I’ve been particularly lucky that The Boy (ie my husband of a year, officially, since 20 March) has been my biggest supporter when it comes to writing. But since moving to Barcelona, I must admit that one of the things I’ve been missing about London is the sheer number of groups there that cater to writers and book lovers — and of course, the brilliant bookshops in every neighbourhood from Westminster to Lewisham.

So imagine our excitement when The Boy and I stumbled upon this gem on a corner just off of Barcelona’s main Diagonal. Backstory opened just a couple of months ago as a cosy new outlet for English-language books in the city. Between the warmth of Abbie and Kate (the owners), their carefully curated selection, and the space itself (just so you know, there’s a BOOK FORT in the kid’s section — and a tunnel through contemporary fiction), Backstory has quickly become my new favourite place to explore.

Best of all, though, are the events.

Not even a week after discovering the shop, we attended an open mic night there featuring all sorts of prose and poetry. And the shop is already hosting talks with English authors who are local to Barcelona, like Dinesh Thiru, author of a YA dystopian Treasure Island retelling: Into the Sunken City. Chatting with Dinesh after his event, I was almost surprised to hear him echoing my own thoughts, as he talked about his experience of the writing life:

“…sometimes it can end up feeling really lonely.”

So I finally decided to do something about it. Since mid-March, I’ve started hosting Write-Ins at Backstory. It’s only the first step in building a community of fellow writers to share the journey with, but it’s been fun so far. Even in just two sessions, I’ve met fascinating people working on all sorts of projects, and it’s been refreshing to talk with them about their writing and passions.

In any case, this is where I am at the moment, wandering the wood between worlds and planning our next event. If you’re ever in Barcelona, I’d love for you to join us. Because an adventure is always so much more fun with company…

Join me for an adventure?

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