Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Heart Writers. And words. And also books.

I'm not sure how many of you around here remember this, but I resolved to write my version of the great American novel (or maybe just something that could be published by a small publishing house and sell maybe 3 copies, because surely I know 3 people who'd take my book if I bought it and gave them a copy. Right?). I think I've decided that I'm more of a storyteller than a writer, and one doesn't really preclude the other, but to me the difference has to do with imagination. I tell stories about things that have happened to me. I have less confidence in my ability to create people and inflict some of those same experiences on them. Still, this post has nothing to do with that, so never mind.

This weekend, I did something new in my quest to get my writer's hat screwed on straight. I went to a workshop, sponsored by a local writer's group. And I had Such. A. Good. Time! Really. I did. A great time. There's just something about being surrounded by people who love books and stories and words and this was a room of 50 such people. And the leader was Laura Parker Castoro, a writer from Pine Bluff (that's Arkansas) with 39 published titles. Like, published so that you can check them out from the library or buy them on Amazon. How cool would it be to enter your name on Amazon, my favorite place in the world, and turn up a list of books with your name on them? And she's a real person and everything.
I am a dork. It's OK for us all to admit that. And people who have books out there in the world that people buy leave me a little tongue-tied. (Anybody remember my B&N encounter with Debbie Macomber? I'm pretty sure I don't make a good impression either. Still, Emilie Richards did tell me about a house for rent down the street when I threatened to move to Virginia to be close to all the Pat and Emilie fun, so maybe all hope is not lost. I think I improve on closer inspection. I didn't try my chances with Laura Castoro. Pine Bluff is pretty close. She might worry.)

It was a good day, with conversation on character, dialogue, and plot. She illustrated her points from her own books and from best sellers. And there were critiques of a few short stories. Thank goodness I missed the deadline because the writer had to own up to the story...after the critique. In front of 50 people! Actually, in front of 50 writers! And as I have some idea of the skill of the writer sitting next to me, I'm not sure those stories were representative of all the skill in the room. Flashes of my college Creative Writing course came back and I was reminded why I should never write anything. Ever. Even though those experiences went well...there's always the threat of the next one. Or worse, an unspoken critique, consisting of laughing and pointing. That one's mainly in my head but I think it keeps me from the keyboard.

Fired up by the day, I did manage to write an impressive 909 words though. I'm just burning right through it. Maybe the great American novella is a more likely goal. And a year...well, why rush mediocrity? Or greatness? I figure I've got a 50/50 shot.

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