I was without a laptop for three weeks. My screen died, I had to send it for repair and in the meantime I checked the internet using other people’s computers. I couldn’t edit the book I’d started editing, I couldn’t check my emails as often as I usually do and I couldn’t access the Plot Bunnies website enough for my liking (I check it daily). What I wanted to do before my laptop fell ill was blog about the Sport Relief Mile that I ran with my kung fu club (evidence, should you need it, that I was there can be obtained by looking at the photo on our club website). So let me start with that. We met at Parliament Square at 10 a.m. and made sure everyone had what they needed, then we made our way along to Horseguards Parade, where the start was, left our bags with a designated bag watcher and joined the queue for the first run, which was to start at 11:15. On the stage, encouraging everyone, were a dance band called Flawless. I’d frankly never heard of them and thought they were awful, but that’s because I don’t watch crap ‘talent’ shows and was completely clueless. (Do I feel enlightened now I know of them? No.) The warm-up was greeted with a few jokes from our guys – it was more like dancing, which is fine if you’re not used to such things, but the comment going round was that these guys had not been subjected to one of Dave’s warm-ups in class. The contrast, for us, was striking! Still, we kept smiling (of course we did, Hashim, who couldn’t run while his leg recovered – a training injury – was wielding a camera), and then we were off. We kept it at a decent pace, but still managed to overtake some people. I surprised myself, because I’m not a runner, but I felt I was doing something worthwhile and joining in with my kung fu brothers and sisters. We were all in uniform and we more or less stayed together throughout the event, which comprised a run along The Mall to the Wedding Cake and back the other way. It actually didn’t feel very far (a mile – it wasn’t!) and when we slowed down to collect our bottles of water and Sport Relief medals, I felt the buzz of adrenaline and would probably have been happy enough to run again. We posed for a group photo at the end and then made our way back to where our bags were. Some people went back to class, some went home, and it had been a fantastic experience for everyone. What’s more, we eventually raised almost £3000 between us for Sport Relief.
A few days later, the backlight on my laptop died, so I was forced to manage without it during that time. I spent a lot of time reading, some time editing another book by hand with red pen, and practising my patterns at home. In the meantime, Lisa See replied to our request to answer some questions about writing for our website. She was very gracious and answered them all, with some very interesting and insightful results. She’s a nice lady who has always answered my emails, however briefly, so it was no surprise to me when she said she would do it. This is the first time since we began doing this that we’ve had an international writer, and she also tweeted a link to it as well as retweeting my Plot Bunnies tweet about it. We do these Q&A sessions to get advice from published writers about their experiences of being a writer, but a secondary and very obvious benefit is that it should raise our profile as a respectable writers’ circle. We’re humble and friendly, pretentiousness isn’t allowed, but we take our writing seriously, and I think that comes across on our public pages (yes, most of the website is private, for members only, so that our work, some of which may be in its very early stages, stays between us). We’ve seen quite a few writers’ websites, ones that are solely online forums and others that hold actual meetings, where some or all of the members’ writing is readily available to anyone who wants to read it. We have an Extracts tab, so that those of us who are comfortable with certain pieces being made public can put them up, but the comments facility is suspended. The last thing we want or need is anyone who has an opinion making odd remarks (I’ve seen some of these, too, and many of the comments are extremely derogatory and very hurtful, and these can really knock writers’ confidence). When Plot Bunnies want something critiqued, it’s other Plot Bunnies who critique it, and we make it clear that any comments made are opinions only and the writer remains in full control and is free to ignore them. All we ask is that they take the time to consider them because the other person has spent time reading the piece and thinking about it. It’s a fair exchange.