All the writers from the Writing Group were seated at the large oak table in Alfie’s Coffee Shop.
Tina, the thriller writer, was busy gossiping to Darcy, the romance writer, about the Writing Group newcomer, Suzie. “Apparently she wrote her book in eight weeks.”
“I don’t believe that”, hissed Darcy, shaking her head. ‘That’s crazy talk. Normal writers like us don’t write books in eight weeks.”
They both stared at Suzie, sat opposite taking a sip of coffee.
“Could you write a book in eight weeks?” Tina looked at her friend, Darcy.
“My goodness eight weeks….” Darcy paused. “My stuff takes ages to write and I have to spend weeks researching stuff.” She twirled a long strand of hair around a manicured finger nail.
Tina nodded. “All that research must take time.”
Darcy picked up her phone. “Its not easy being an author.”
Tina groaned. “I feel like I have aged whilst writing my latest book. More grey hairs and creases with every new draft.”
Darcy leant over to refill her cup with more peppermint tea.
Matt, the Writing Group, leader, tapped his spoon against his cup to get attention.
“Shall we make a start?” he asked, looking around the table at the collection of writers, huddled over their drinks and notepads. “I want to talk tonight about how we all cope with receiving feedback.” A chorus of groans rang out.
“Can I say something first, Matt?” Richard, the military writer, raised his hand. “I have some pressing news about Grimes, my main character.”
“Is it bad?” Karl, the comedy writer grinned. “Will we be saying R.I.P Grimes tonight?”
‘This week the plane Grimes was flying suffered an engine malfunction. He had to ditch it in a fallow field, but he is ok.” Richard vigorously stirred tea.
‘What a relief!” cried Moira. “That must have been stressful for you writing that sort of scene.”
Richard hung his head. “I am not going to lie to you, I was worried. At one point I had to radio downstairs to Mission Control to bring me up a hot sugary cup of tea, as I was in a bit of a mess.”
‘You radio downstairs to your wife?’ Stacey, stared in horror at Richard.
“Yes Stacey. When I am in my writing cockpit, as I like to call my study, a walkie-talkie radio is my preferred form of communication with the rest of the world and with Mission Control.” Richard plucked his beard.
“I’m glad I’m not your wife!’ snapped Stacey, shaking her head. ‘If my future husband ordered me to make him a cup of tea, via a hand-held radio from upstairs, he would quickly find himself using it to send out a SOS call!”
“Ok….thanks for that update Richard,” Matt sensed trouble. Richard gave him a mini salute and went back to stirring his tea.
‘Right then, how do we all handle getting feedback on our work?” Matt asked, rubbing his hands, in anticipation of a lively debate.
Moira, the romantic fiction writer, started to sniffle, dabbing at her nose with her floral handkerchief. “I asked my husband Bob for some feedback,’ she said, in between sniffs. “He said the scenes with my male character are unrealistic’. Richard shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“Do you think Bob’s jealous of Major Tom?” asked Karl, trying to suppress a smile. “You do spend a lot of your time with the character of handsome Major Tom.”
“Oh, Moira,” cried Darcy, reaching over and giving her a reassuring arm rub. “What does Bob know about romantic fiction anyway?”
Moira mumbled, “according to him my story is not realistic, because a real man would not act like Major Tom, when romancing a lady!’.
“Its fiction. Doesn’t your husband understand that?” exclaimed Tina, her face reddening.
“I haven’t received any negative feedback on my work,” sighed Suzie, whilst stroking her notebook. “Only positive stuff’.” The faraway look on her face made Richard tut.
“Has anyone given you any feedback on your book?” enquired Stacey, looking directly at Suzie.
“My mum, Gran and the neighbour so far,” sighed Suzie. “They are always honest with me. According to them it will be a best seller.”
“I will give you some feedback if you want,” offered Stacey, watching Suzie grinning from ear to ear. “Some writers have said I am brutal with my critiquing.”
Suzie gave her a cool look. “No thanks, Stacey, I have all the feedback I need now.”
Stacey’s eyes darkened. “Suzie, you need to let me beta read your work.”
Suzie shook her head.”The next people who read my work will be publishers.”
“The trouble is,” sobbed Moira loudly, making everyone turn their heads towards her, “I would like my husband Bob to be more like Major Tom!”
Richard dabbed at his forehead with a tissue and let out a groan. “Not this again, Moira. We have not come here to listen to your marriage problems.”
“Doesn’t Bob show you any romance?” asked Tina, leaning closer to a now tearful Moira.
“No,” sobbed Moira, making Tina reach out to give her a cuddle. “He doesn’t cuddle me.”
Tina pulled the old lady towards her. “Have you talked to Bob about this?”
“Maybe you and Bob need to invest in some walkie-talkie radios?” piped up Karl.
Richard stopped stirring his tea and gave Karl a scowl.
Moira sniffed into a tissue. “I hoped Bob would read my story about Major Tom and become him.”
Matt rubbed his face, wishing he had never suggested the subject of feedback.
Tina shook her head at Moira. “I am so sorry. What is it about Major Tom that Bob doesn’t think is realistic?”
Moira dabbed her eyes and whispered. “His long and sensuous love making.”
Richard spewed his tea across the table. “For goodness sake, Moira, we don’t need to know this!”
“Blimey,” remarked Tina. “Major Tom sounds interesting.”
A smile spread across Moira’s plump face. “He’s a remarkable character.”
Alfie, the coffee shop owner, stood at the back listening to the discussion. He wondered whether it was something from one of his hot beverages that sparked such a debate.