Group 2012 is an Oxford-wide newly-created endeavour for budding novelists who wish to come together to share the worries and woes that surround putting pen to paper, or submitting book to publisher. The group is open to a writer at any stage of his career: the first-time novelist who is basking in the glow of having just been published; the seasoned author, who can offer handy hints drawn from his own illustrious career writing books; the young student, who has only just decided she wants to try her hand at writing a novel.

The group, comprised of a large number of members of the public, is joined by a panel of published authors. The first meeting, held in the upstairs section of Blackwell’s, involves a round of introductions from the panel and then a discussion as to what exactly the group would like to cover during its meetings. The charming thing about this literary circle is its democratic aspect: content of meetings will not be decided by the panel members organising them, but by the people who will swell their ranks.

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The discussion ensues, with a free glass of red wine at everybody’s side. The discussion covers not only the content of future meetings, but also strays into fiery disagreements about the merits (or otherwise) of the dreaded Kindle. During the introductory stage, each member of the panel has already introduced their literary pursuits to the audience gathered before them. Their range of achievements is impressive, and includes a writer of historical fiction, a children’s author and an author who has been driven to self-publish. The varied expertise of the panel means budding authors of all genres should find somebody they can relate to.

The group will meet monthly, and will provide a source of support and advice for those struggling, or thriving, as they pursue their careers as authors. The turnout shows just how many people aspire to become writers; but it serves as a reminder as to how difficult it is to succeed in this competitive world.