The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Comes Out of YOUR Butt?

photo by Lemon Lauren

       One of the writers in my critique group--She Who Will Not Be Named (SWWNBN)-- has done the same thing for several meetings in a row. When it comes her turn to share, she hems and haws, saying she really doesn't have much. What she has brought are "old" pieces, stories and essays that have sat by the wayside, wasting away. And as the other four of us read her piece, our mouths gape open. Our eyes spin around in our heads. Our brains whir in wonderment. Where did she get this awesome idea? How did she craft such a poignant piece that's simple and mind-blowing at the same time? How can we take her down a notch? (Okay, that last one probably only ran through my mind.)

       And her perception is her reality. She honestly thinks--each time--that her pieces suck. (That's my term. SWWNBN's far too much of a lady to say something so crass. I myself am not disabled in that way.)

       And each time, Lynn and I roll our eyes and then give this writer the stink eye. We started making jokes that she was pulling Pulitizer-prize winning stuff out of her butt.

       It came to a climax at our last critique session. After reading her piece, we each drew a set of buttocks at the end of her story. Some of us drew two butts--one like our own, with the normal "waste" coming out and then SWWNBN's rear end, with gold nuggets of words coming out. (I even think I saw one of the butts sporting sprouts of hair. Disgusting!)

       Of course, she is going to keep those drafts forever; someday, those doodled posteriors will bring some big bucks, when we all become internationally-known writers. ('Cause we sure ain't going to get known as illustrators. The drawings are proof of that.)

        It's crucial to have a sense of humor (in my opinion) when you're a member of an effective critique group. It's also important that all the writers feel safe. Tammy (oops, I just named her), with the multi-skilled sphincter, did not feel threatened at all by the good-natured ribbing we liberally dished out. 

        As a writer...create a safe community for your writing to flourish. Dish it out. And take it. Serve it up and suffer through it with the love and respect that it's generously peppered with.

        Because, of're a writer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Evening with the WWWPs

       Yes, tonight was our writing critique night. Another snortingly good time was had by all.

        Since I know everyone is frothing at the mouth for details, here are the highlights:

  • One of our members (I won't name names, lucky for you, Tammy) did an encore of "I-don't-think-I-really-have-anything-here-but-it-had-been-sitting-around-for-a-while-and-I-just-dug-it-up." (She's done this for the past three meetings. It's getting old. Real old.) The rest of us figured we were going to have to roll our eyes, because we knew we were going to be blown away. We did and we were.
Lesson:  Periodically go through your old writing. You never know how you can recycle it, and you also never know what some fresh eyes will see in it.
  • Beth came armed with pizza (from Twigs--is that spelled correctly) and was bundled up with a scarf around her neck. She said she was "chilly" all day.
Lesson:  Get some lard on your body, Beth. If you had a fat content more than negative three gazillion and seventeen, you'd have some insulating capabilities. I don't carry around these rolls of cellulite for their looks, ya know...
  • Linda,  one of the founding members of the WWWPs, is extraordinarily generous with her gifts. Tonight she pounced on one of the stories that was shared, and said, "You really have got something here. Expand it, and Chicken Soup will jump on it." She then gave some suggestions on how to embellish the tale.
Lesson:  We're a community of writers. We can flounder alone or flourish together. Share the wealth.

  • Getting into a character's head, with all of the crazy tangents that bounce around in our brain, takes talent. Our thinking is hardly ever linear. Making a stream of consciousness believable as well as interesting, is tough to do, but Lynn can do it with one hand and a couple of extra fingers (from the other hand) tied behind her back. 
Lesson: Stay true to the character you create. Channel the rhythm of their speech, capture their idiosyncrasies, and make us care about them.

  • One of the WWWP's loved ones recently traveled south. To Brazil, I believe. Many trips to new places are fun. This one was terrifying, from all accounts. However, even though it involved some novel experiences that were hair-raising, it was tranformative. 
Lesson: Embrace the new. Finish what you start. And don't be afraid to go where no man has gone before. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Poetry Contest and a Flash Fiction Contest

Emily Dickinson
photo by Amherst College Archives

         Saturday Writers is having two contests this month--poetry and flash fiction. The deadline is April 28. Poetry is limited to 50 lines; flash fiction is limited to 500 words. The entry is fee is $7, with a maximum of 3 entries per person per category. (If you're a member of Saturday Writers, the entry fee is only $5 per entry.)

        I wrote a murder story for the March contest, but after searching (in vain) for a way to make a cigar poisonous (I was killing off Rush Limbaugh) I had to alter my story; my victim became Steve Tilley, the Missouri politician who has idiotically decided to honor Limbaugh in the state capitol with a bronze bust. (The thought makes my shirt bust open in pride! Not only is Missouri the meth capital of the country and not only are we the puppy mill mecca, we also have some of the stupidest politicians.)

       Now, I have to think of a poem to submit, even though it's not my normal genre. Flash fiction as well? Who knows...

        I have a writing friend who writes poetry almost exclusively. (Barb)

        I have a writing friend who writes humorous poetry. (Linda)

        I know a writer who writes mind-blowing poetry, and even channels Emily Dickinson at times. (Fireblossom)

            I know a writer who writes wonderful microfiction; I'm sure Lisa could submit at least one or two flash fiction stories.

        I know of a couple of other writer who are phenomenal poets. (Hedgewitch and Mama Zen).

         How about it? What's stopping you?