Collective good

By Zoë Spencer

I think it’s two months since my best friend, Madeline Harvey, asked me if I’d like to join this collective. Her sister is a good friend of one of the founding members and when someone else dropped out, she leapt at the chance to replace her. When they decided to recruit one more member, Maddy suggested me.

It took two weeks to write a story I could submit to Pankhearst. And two hours for T and E to tell me I was in. I was very pleased then, and I’m even more pleased now.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I first signed up, but over the last six weeks or so, I’ve had some great advice, some very constructive help – one of the members even built my blog site for me – and as a result I’m going to be published several times this year. All of which is going to help me develop as a writer.

I’ve also lost that awful feeling that I’m writing alone. Even though Maddy is also a writer, we live several hours apart and with her busy life we only get together once or twice a month. Now I have a wider community to lean on.

One thing is very clear, though. Writing in a collective is a lot like everything else, you only get back what you put in and there are no free lunches.

For every critique of my story, I’ve provided feedback on another. This is quite a commitment.  There’s five of us working together on a #FemNoir book called Cars And Girls. So far, we’ve had the first draft story level review and a full second draft line edit. Next, we’ll be moving onto a further line edit of the revisions and after that, proof-reading.

At each of these stages, I read and worked on all four of the other stories which works out at maybe 70,000 words.

I’ve also undertaken to help with promotion – like this piece, I guess – and I may also be taking some photographs for our book’s cover, if I can borrow my brother’s shotgun and persuade Maddy to be my model. Another writer is working with some artists she knows to produce artwork, lettering, and logos.

Long story short, it’s fun and I’m learning.

I’m also working on another book with Pankhearst, Girls And Boys. This one isn’t much fun, even though it’s erotica which you’d think would be a laugh and a thrill a minute. There’s less team spirit, very little family atmosphere, and no real sense of commitment from many of the members. My guess is there are too many people involved. In future, I’m only going to sign up for projects with five or fewer writers and I’ve made the same comment to T and E.

My next project actually looks like a lot of fun. Maddy and I have been brainstorming with T and she’s asked us to continue our Cars And Girls stories and put our two characters together in a struggle to save – well, if you want to find out, you’ll have to buy it.

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