I took a chance on the local writer’s group and attended last Tuesday evening. The first woman who showed up told me I was the most attractive woman my age that she had seen in a long time. Now, who wouldn’t want to join such a group?
I was excited after that remark, but then she told me that the group members hadn’t been doing much writing–just chatting. Of course, I was disappointed about that remark because I am looking for a group that does serious critiquing. I convinced her to listen to my latest efforts, and she did give me some feedback. Then she read a one-page story about her early life, and I offered a few minor suggestions. She’s an amazing writer so I was reluctant to give her my opinion.
Three other members arrived a little late, and I read my short piece again. One member suggested that I was leaving a powerful story too soon and encouraged me to develop it with a little more description and emotion. Now, that’s the kind of feedback I’ve been hoping for.
All in all, I think I’m going to enjoy the group. It may be just what I’ve been looking for. I’ll definitely give it another try next Tuesday.
There’s a lot more to writing than I ever imagined. I just re-read one of my chapters and noticed I go from past to present tense quite frequently. I’m going to look tense up on the Internet and refresh my memory. Also, I have to decide which tense is going to work for me and be consistent.
Stein’s book has a chapter on tense, so I think I’ll sit on the porch for a while and read. Maybe that will help me straighten out my tenses.
This is getting more complicated by the day. I hope I have the tenacity to stick with my project.
I stopped in the local bookstore today to look for another book on writing. I found one that I think will be interesting, Your Life As Story. It might help me feel more secure about writing a memoir. I keep wondering who would want to read about my life–I’m not even certain our children or grandchildren will be interested. After all, I’ve lead a rather uneventful life. Just your average Joe (or Jane).
Anyway, while I was there I picked up a calendar of the bookstore’s offering, and they actually have a writing group that meets on Tuesday evenings. I’m going to get really brave and attend next Tuesday. The more I mix with other people who are writers or wanna-be writers, the more I might learn.
What does a struggling author do when in the midst of writing a memoir, their one and only computer crashes? I’ll tell you what I did–screamed and tore my hair out. I was in the midst of writing my great American novel when this happened. To top it off, I was away from home and couldn’t get to a computer geek to find out if my laptop could be saved. The minute I returned home, I hurried (by driving rapidly) to the nearest computer repair service only to find out that all was lost–the laptop was toast. Then, of course, I had to drive very fast (like hell, really) to get to a computer store and spend oodles of dollars to purchase a new computer. Now, I’m in the process of reloading software, searching my old hard drive for files, and trying to locate my address book for E-Mail. So-o-o-o it will be a little while before I try to rewrite the chapter on the in-laws.
I sent the piece I wrote about my mother-in-law and father-in-law to a friend who has agreed to do some editing for me. The chapter was about ten pages long, and I was certain it was quite good. I’ve now decided to be careful what I ask for.
My friend was very thorough. She must have used all the the ink in her red pen to correct my work. I had things out of order, a great deal of telling not showing, too much opinion, and still did not make my characters (and they were characters) stand out as unique.
OH WELL, I ASKED FOR IT! BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!
I attended my first free workshop at the library and found it very disappointing. The teacher was pleasant and everyone was very welcoming, but I didn’t learn anything about writing. We were given a prompt and about fifteen minutes to develop it. Then each of us took our turn reading our story.
The instructor reminded everyone that she only wanted positive comments about the writing. That didn’t help me one bit. I knew my writing needed more work, but I didn’t know exactly how to make it better. Of course, it’s nice to hear positive comments, but I also wanted constructive criticism. There are three more sessions and I’ll probably attend because it’s helping me to gain more confidence in sharing my writing.
I’ll continue to plug along on my own and read everything I can find about the craft of writing. I’m also going to the library and take out a few memoirs just to get an idea about how they’re written.
I received a few good responses to my question on characterization. One reader said my mother-in-law filled a room. We knew when she was there–not only her large frame but also her boisterous behavior. There was no ignoring her. My sister-in-law said the one thing she remembered most about her mother was that she was so loud. She embarrassed everyone by her comments and she never bothered to whisper. You could hear her across the room. She might say, “You’re fat. I know I shouldn’t say that but it’s the truth.” That was her idea of an apology.
In the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve come to realize that a good writer uses adverbs and adjectives sparingly. Instead of saying, my fat, loud mother-in-law walked heavily into the room, I need to say something like she thundered past me and shouted to her son. I’ve got to work more on this whole idea. Any more suggestions?