James Marshall

James Marshall

Dear Gotham,

I discovered the weekly Write-Ins 14 months ago after reading Gotham’s book Writing Fiction. The idea of writing to prompts in a time-sensitive block appealed to me: no excuses, get it done, immediate feedback. I had been a member of two previous writing groups that had taken me from novice to beginner and taught me the basics of writing, but I missed the feeling of ‘flow’ and storytelling that comes from reading aloud.

The Write-Ins are better than any Friday night Going-Outs. I am surrounded by people from a plethora of backgrounds who are eager to write and listen and share and laugh and cry at the stories we tell. Their feedback has been invaluable, and I think of them as ‘Critical Friends.’  Just when I think I have written a half-decent piece, I am gobsmacked by what the other writers share. It inspires me to get better.

The tutors have been great: their enthusiasm for writing is palpable from 3,000 miles away. A special shout out to Angie Chatman who runs a tight, but empathetic, ship and offers concise advice that has shaped what and how I write. 

I supped from a poisoned chalice last December when I was short-listed for a ‘Book of the Year’ award after submitting an opening chapter and synopsis to the organisers. I enter a lot of competitions with great hope but little expectation. All five of us short-listed writers have received editorial and mentoring support (the chalice), but we have to complete the novel in a year (the poison). 

This has been hard work, not ‘working-in-a-coal-mine’ work, but mentally tough. I have completed my third draft and two of my fellow Gotham writers, Leslie and Kirsten, are beta-reading it. The book, a dystopian coming of age thriller, will be published in June 2024.

Thanks to Gotham Writers for providing the Write-Ins. They refresh my writing palate that gets jaded when writing under pressure.

James Marshall

James Marshall's writing journey | Substack