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Diary of an aspiring chick lit author: Best beware in hunt for new writing group

After last week's disaster with the writing group, where I got dumped, humiliated and almost mauled by a snake called Ashley in one fell swoop, I remain undeterred.

I'm determined to find some kind of writing circle where I can get honest criticism from a group of like-minded people in a constructive environment. And I'm also going to avoid sleeping with any of them at all costs.

So, I put the following ad on Gumtree: "Dublin-based aspiring chick-lit author seeks committed writing group for regular meetings and honest feedback." When I last checked the ad, it had been viewed 24 times, but 18 of those may have been me. A few weeks ago in Grazia magazine, I read an interview with Natalie Massenet, the former fashion journalist, who's now a multi-millionaire, thanks to her founding the fashionista's shopping website of choice, www.net-a-porter.com. Natalie keeps a copy of Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain beside her bed, so I went out and bought a copy and now so do I! Anyway, I was looking at the ad for the 19th time, using Creative Visualisation techniques to focus on it and send good vibes out into the universe, imagining lots of nice people responding, when I got a whiff of Chance by Chanel and I knew that Orla, my boss, had crept up behind me.

"What's this? Oh, and how's it going with that chap, Phil?"

"Oh, how do you know about Phil?" I said coolly.

"I read your emails to your little friend, Avril. You left Outlook open on your desktop and I was looking for a file . . . Pity Avril doesn't work here any more, isn't it?" She gave me a meaningful glance.

Honestly, Orla could give Glee's Sue Sylvester a run for her money. I know for a fact that I didn't leave my emails open and there's no file on my desktop that she could have been looking for. Ah well. It's just as well that I'm careful not to say anything in emails that she could fire me for, they way she did poor Avril, for her assertion that Orla's real age is 63.

"Things didn't work out with Phil," I said, all breezy. "But it's onwards and upwards. I'm getting a new writing group together and I'm not thinking about men until this book of mine is finished."

We had to finish our conversation abruptly then because a client came in for her weekly reflexology appointment. Orla suddenly snapped into 'Earth Goddess' mode and her voice became all breathy and light as she glided back into the treatment room. Next thing I heard whale music and soft, reassuring murmurs from Orla. Damn, you have to hand it to her, the woman's a professional.

I decided to take a break and I was browsing Jezebel.com when a message from Gumtree popped into my inbox. It was from a Valerie in Donnybrook, who's setting up a writing group and saw my ad. The first meeting is next week!