Four-ish years ago I had a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old and writing time was a long-distant mythical concept never to be seen again.
I mooched around Google looking for local writing groups in an attempt to give me a kick up the arse and some understanding angst-ridden writing peers, but I never quite found one that I felt comfortable in. Writing groups can be... a little weird, sometimes. Cliquey. Not always that inviting.
BUT THEN. I came across Brighton Writers' Retreat, a monthly writing session hosted by Sarah Lewis - essentially a case of locking writers away in a room at New Writing South for 6 hours and plying them with endless caffeine, snacks and sandwiches. Pretty sweet.
I emailed her immediately with the opening line: 'WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?'
She had a 9-month-old too - a few weeks' different in age from mine. She was desperate for writing time, too. She'd actually done something about it.
A coupla months later and I was Sarah's resident heckler. A while after that I started helping out at retreats in exchange for a freebie ticket. A few years later and I took over for six months while Sarah went on maternity leave for baby number 2.
It was around then that we both made a decision. Sarah no longer had a job to go back to. I was sick of working random freelance copywriting gigs that had nothing to do with creativity. We knew the retreat worked well. We knew people wanted time and support to write. We also knew they struggled to make time, afford the time, and justify the time.
Brighton Writers' Retreat spawned its own baby: Worthing Writers' Retreat. And then it mutated into Writers' HQ. We wrote a mahoosive application for the Arts Council and were awarded a grant to help us set up five online writing courses 'for badass writers with no time or money'.
And here we are. About to do this shit. And all because we wanted to write, and didn't wait around for someone to give us permission to do so.
So, in the motto of our brand new love-child, 'stop fucking about and start writing'.