One of the best things that has happened to me as a writer has been finding and joining Keybangers Bangkok, an English language writers group here in The Big Mango. For the past two years, Keybangers has been my support group, circle of critics  and best of all,  a source of friendships.

As a writer, I cannot overemphasize the importance of being a member of a writers’ group.  We have all heard of the famous ones, starting with the Socrates School (Socrates, Aristotle,Plato) , working its way through history to the more modern incarnations: The Bloomsbury Group (E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes), Stratford on Odeon (Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein) , The Algonquin Round Table (Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, George S. Kauffman) , The Factory (Alan Ginsburg, Truman Capote,). Keybangers Bangkok is a contemporary version; we’re just not as famous as our predecessors. We are mostly fiction writers, but some of our members write fascinating non-fiction.

I have found this writers’ group to be an inspiration and a sounding board as well as providing me with constructive criticism, editing advice, developmental guidance, and plenty of encouragement. I am forced to write if for no other reason that we meet every other  Sunday and spend four to five hours reviewing each others work. Our styles and genres are eclectic; some write  literary fiction, others humor, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense. We have a core group of around a dozen who have been attending since I joined and we are often joined by writers who are passing through. Most of us are native English speakers, but some of our Thai and European colleagues know grammar and punctuation better than I could ever hope to equal.

We have experimented with various venues but for the last year or so we have been gathering at Bistro 33, where we can meet indoors or outdoors, depending  on the weather.  We are supposed to post our work on our private internet site a few days before the meet, but being artists, the rule is honored equally in the breach, so we usually spend the first hour and a half eating, drinking coffee, and reading hard copies. We usually read and review five or six submissions each time. We also share information on the thorny worlds of publishing and self-publishing.

As friends, we often get together to write in between meetings. One of our favorite haunts for these informal gatherings is the Coffee Club on the corner of Ekamai, though I prefer Artis, a coffee shop right next to the condo where I live. I do most of my writing at home (after all, writing is a solitary art) but it is really helpful to have a “writing buddy” to motivate and have as a sounding board when you are stuck or lost in a work in progress.

If you are a fiction (or non-fiction) writer in Bangkok, check us out on Meetup. If you are somewhere else, do yourself a huge favor and find yourself a writing group. I hope you get as much out of yours as I have gotten out of mine!

Keybangers Bangkok meeting at Wine Connection on Soi 20 (Bistro 33 had a private party that Sunday so we were nomads that week.)  Clockwise from the left are David, Sar, Kayla. Delia, Kay, Daniel, Paul and I’m the extremely ugly guy in the front right with the white shirt and glasses. Every one of them a fine writer and a great person; proud to call them my friends.

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