My friend K is terribly good at networking. She’s extraordinarily well connected (although happily very casual about it) and very generous with her time and her contacts. I’d love to be a useful sort of person in that respect, but since practically the only people I know are my mother and my next door neighbour, a retired organist from Leamington Spa, I have yet to find my niche at a networking breakfast. I suspect it lies amongst the bacon rolls.
We had supper with K and her husband a few weeks ago and she asked me how the book was coming along.
“I should put you in touch with some friends of ours.” She said, and reeled off a dozen or so names, almost all of which I recognised as major names within the literary field.
“Well yes.” I said. “That would be most helpful.” I silently cursed her for not mentioning any of these connections at any point during the last eighteen months, but forgave her when the chocolate pudding arrived, which was divine.
K insisted I should meet a writer friend of hers in the next village, with whom she felt I would hit it off instantly. I wasn’t so sure. I’m not averse to meeting new people – in fact I positively thrive on it – but I rather like friendships to happen more organically. At a drinks party perhaps, “Oh Emily, do come over here, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” That sort of thing.
The very next day K e-mailed us both. She gave each of us links to the other’s blogs (how terribly modern) and added a link to Maeve’s books on Amazon for good measure.
Her e-mail was brief. “I know you’ll both cringe, but it’s the simplest way.” She suggested a drink the following night.
Maeve sounded quite lovely in her e-mail response, and we arranged to meet K in the pub at eight o’clock. I wondered if I should wear a pink carnation in my button hole, a copy of the Financial Times tucked beneath my arm. I had no idea what the etiquette was for platonic blind dates. What if I didn’t like her? What if she didn’t like me? What if she was frightfully highbrow and sneered at my Chick Lit efforts, sipping cloudy Ricard with a Proust first edition propped before her?
I needn’t have worried. Maeve arrived in a whirlwind of skirts and curls; a sort of Rachel Weisz crossed with Mary Poppins. K gave the introductions in that beautiful manner they must teach girls in finishing school (they certainly didn’t cover it in my school – I learned how to roll a joint and blow smoke rings).
“Emily, this is Maeve. Maeve has five children, trained as a journalist and is writing her third book. Maeve, this is Emily. Emily has three children, keeps chickens and is working on her first novel.” She stayed for a drink before making a polite excuse and leaving us alone.
Maeve and I stayed until they threw us out. We talked books and children and books and more books. We talked writing and novel structure and characterisation and points of view. We talked literary agents and publishing deals, books, books and still more books. We drank gin and we laughed a lot and I left with more than a little crush on her. I think you’ll like her too, so I’ll point you in the direction of her recently revived blog, and let you get to know each other. I’ll give the formal introductions a miss, if you don’t mind.