Work in Progress: The untold story of the Crawley Writers’ Group, compiled by Peter, writer

In December 2016, Julia Greengage, aspiring writer and resting actor, puts up a poster in her local library inviting people to join a new writers’ group. The group will exchange constructive feedback and ‘generally share in the pains and pleasures of this excruciating yet exhilarating endeavour we call Literature’.

Seven people, each in their own way a bit of a work in progress, heed the call.

There’s Keith, a mercenary sci-fi geek who can write 5,000 words before breakfast and would sell his mother for a book deal. Tom, a suburban lothario with an embarrassing secret. Peter, a conceptual artist whose main goal in life is to make everyone else feel uncomfortable. Alice, who’s been working on her opening sentence for over nine months. Jon, a faded muso with a UFO complex. Blue, whose doom-laden poems include ‘Electrocuted Angel in the Headlights of My Dead Lover’s Eye Sockets’ and the notorious ‘Kitten on a Fatberg’. And Mavinder, who sadly couldn’t make the first meeting. Or the second. But promises to come to the next one…

Soon, under Julia’s watchful eye, the budding writers are meeting every month to read out their work and indulge each other’s dreams of getting published. But it’s not long before the group’s idiosyncrasies and insecurities begin to appear. Feuds, rivalries and even romance are on the cards – not to mention an exploding sheep’s head, a cosplay stalker, and an alien mothership invasion. They’re all on a journey, and God help the rest of us.

A novel-in-emails about seven eccentric writers, written by three quite odd ones, Work in Progress is a very British farce about loneliness, friendship and the ache of literary obscurity.

My Review

Hilarious. At a time when the world is in pandemic chaos following Brexit chaos, this book is a beacon of light in the darkness (I hope that is/is not too pretentious). In the spirit of the novel I am going to write in the style of the Crawley Writers Group. If I ever thought about joining a writer’s group I hope/dread that they would all be as mad as this lot.

Dear Peter
You are not misunderstood and unappreciated. You are simply a pretentious twat. And I’m not sure all that secret recording is actually legal.

Hey Jon
There are no aliens living in the sky or UFOs coming to rescue you. Get over it and keep taking the tablets or in your case probably stop taking the illegal substances. And as far as rebooting the rock band of the seventies, l should leave that elderly rockers thing to The Rolling Stones.

Hey Keith
I think maybe 4.5 million words, many of which are in a made-up language, is (are?) about 4.3 million too many. Can I have a Bink badge please at a hugely discounted price? Of course I can’t.

Dear Blue
Somewhere deep inside that Goth exterior is a really nice person desperately to trying to get out. I think I might be your friend.

Dear Alice
The Sentence has become a life sentence. Ditch it and realise that everything else you write is really rather good. Writers write. Everything else is procrastination. And keep blogging.

Hey Tomcat
A writer’s group is for writers to exchange ideas, not for perverts to pick up women. It can only end in disaster or the police coming round.

Hi Mavinder
Who are you? Where are you? Do you even exist?

And finally:

Dear Julia
I’m sure you are a beautiful person (both inside and out) with a beautiful house and beautiful clothes, the world’s biggest selection of canapes, more than one chimenea and a kidney-shaped infinity pool (how does that work?). Unfortunately, your ego is bigger than your talent, but no worries, talent is no requisite for success (you only have to watch reality TV) and I’m sure you will be the talk of the town.

This book is the most fun I have had reading in ages. It is so good and so funny. I wish there was more to come.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the authors and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Authors

Dan Brotzel is the author of Hotel du Jack, a collection of short stories, and The Wolf in the Woods, a novel. both published by Sandstone Press. More info at

Martin Jenkins is a freelance writer, researcher and editor. His publications include the novel A Science of Navigation and a contribution to the Soul Bay Press short story anthology 13.

Alex Woolf is an award-winning author of over two hundred books for children and adults, published by the likes of OUP, Ladybird, Hachette and Fiction Express.

4 Comments on “Work in Progress by Dan Brotzel, Martin Jenkins and Alex Woolf

  1. Thank you so much for this dream review, which has nailed the characters completely and is funnier than anything we tried to write! It’s such a thrill that the book has made people laugh at this strange time – Dan, Martin and Alex x

    • Thanks for that. I’m really chuffed. Not sure Amazon will publish it though.

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