There has never before been a collegiate community of novelists at work side by side. Aside from writing every other discipline has improved by learning collaboratively. If you are serious about writing, then maybe it's time to join Kritikme, channel your inner Steinbeck and throw the world a few grapes.
But I did. Twenty years ago - when I had time enough to stalk and grill the likes of Seamus Heaney, Ian McEwan and later Gore Vidal. I'm still learning. Every damn day. I've been writing for twenty years now.
And I was so sick to death of writing alone this time last year, I'm ashamed to say I even gave up drinking.
Then it came to me at the beginning of this year; there's no reason to do this alone in vainglorious semi-squalour! How come everyone else in the world is pretending to work together, sharing their learning, collaborating across digital platforms with heedless immodesty, but we 'serious' writers are still typing in the same underpants we were wearing in 1992?
Of course no one came.
There was no fun in it at all. So I said to my friend Tim, who is an award-winning novelist who writes a column about the state of his mental health, and occasionally gets in touch to enquire as to whether we share any symptoms 'I'm going to write a novel in 90 days and I'm going to teach other writers to do it at the same time. Have them look over my shoulder, you know.' He said, 'You're fucking nuts.' But then The Bookseller and Mslexia said they liked it and the writers came.
(This is a picture of when we were famous.)
For ninety days, I was writing my own novel at dawn and reading the 'hero' texts last thing at night. I was recording the v-logs on my way to one of my two day jobs, and writing the day's lesson in the evening. Each one took me close to two hours. I was mainlining writers like Kerouac, Muriel Spark and John Fowles because for part of the course I was teaching from books written in four weeks. But it was great because my writers were, goddamn it, 'interacting' with me! And I discovered there were six natural phases to the first draft of a novel.
Some of our members are published authors and some are aspiring. Our members are journalists, critics, lawyers, doctors, creatives, and professional mums on maternity leave. The course is more 'reality' show than text book, like watching a plumber fix a leak rather than reading a guide book on the subject. (It's beautiful inside design-wise and content.) The course can be started any time, but if you want to have a novel in your hands by Christmas, I'd get started. Otherwise settle for a slice of turkey and knowing another year went past and you're closer to making a good death. Cheers!
My first book won a couple of prizes and that and the other three which followed got onto a few lists including the Man Booker, and were published internationally by Simon & Schuster and Penguin and others. I'm writing my fifth novel with Kritikme.
('The mint green bathroom fixtures were right out in the open. Billy got off his lounge chair now, went into the bathroom and took a leak. The crowd went wild.' - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five.)
Get in touch with me if you'd like to cosy up to Kritikme in any way, shape or form.
You can view our previous emails by clicking on the link below and you can subscribe to our mailing list on any of the pages of our site and also here.