Hearts are a flutter and creative juices are simmering for a small group of Melbourne romance writers this weekend. No, we haven't just found out the Hemsworth brothers are looking for a group of willing women to fine tune their seduction techniques (that's at our next monthly meeting).
But it's the next best thing. Our annual retreat. Fifteen women, in one house, for one weekend. Different personalities. Differing opinions. A recipe for a potential 'real housewives' scenario? Absolutely. But instead of big bucks, designer clothes and big egos we have a common passion and empathy for what that brings and the only raised voices will be those raised in laughter. For all out different backgrounds and situations an stages in our writing careers, we have genuine respect and support for each other. Makes me wonder whether to receive the trappings of wealth you have to sell your 'just be a nice person' gene to the devil.
If we do feel the urge to channel a 'housewife' we will be in a fancy-shmancy house for the weekend, but we're writers so it goes back to the owner on Sunday. Instead of ripping each other apart we'll dissect each other's writing, listen to workshops and discuss our craft – without expletives or tears, or cleavage or botox. No French bubbles, but lots of home cooked food and talking and chocolate.
But you know we want more. Karaoke and Academy Award winning charades performances are added bonuses, like steak knives, but more fun (although our resident romantic suspense author, who loves a good serial killerwould probably prefer the knives). After flexing writing muscles all day artistic energy is still buzzing and hidden singing and acting abilities are lured into the open. Maybe some would be better kept hidden but just like we don't discriminate between novice and established writers, the nightingale is as welcome as the budgerigar.
Melbourne romance writers keep it real. The dress code is 'whatever works for you', not 'designer'. In my case, it's daggy. Comfy tracky pants and woolly socks are pretty much de riguer. No make-up. No fuss. No judgement.
However at the Saturday night themed dress-up parties, alter-egos do make an appearance. Sometimes it's easy to guess who might don a dinosaur onesie or low cut corset, sometimes we're surprised. It's all about learning more about each other. I'm dusting off my ten year old black sequined number for this weekend's 'You're Fabulous' diva theme (Gina Liano eat your heart out). As much as I love my comfort clothes, it doesn't take much to entice me into something glam and a pair of stilletos.
It will, however, take nipple clamps, or the promise of that visit from the Hemsworths, to get me to karaoke.