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Archive for April, 2008


Last week at my writer’s group, we did a writing exercise, which we do every other week. One of the guys brought in personal ads from the book, “Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor.” It is a collection of newspaper and journal personal ads from 1727-2004. We were to use these ads as a writing prompt and write something.

I chose to answer one of the ads.

Here is the ad I chose:

Monster seeks damsel. Hungry Beastie desires voluptuous damsel for chasing about, carrying off and general “distressing.” Beastie passionate and gentle. Would love to have YOU for dinner.

Here is my response:

Dear Mr. Beastie,

I hope you don’t mind if I call you Mr. I don’t want to offend your monster sensibilities by being too formal, but being a lady it is my nature. I found your request for a damsel to distress quite intriguing. You see, for years I have been waiting for my knight in shining armor to come and rescue me. But in this modern world, with all of its many conveniences, women have a great deal of autonomy and have little need of rescuing. What is a girl to do? Being carried off by a monster may be just the solution to my problem. So, if you do not mind being slain by whatever brave knight that comes to my rescue, I would be delighted to make your acquaintance.

Affectionately,

Damsel in need of distress

And the monster responded:

Dear Ms. Damsel,

A Challenge! Just what I have been looking for. It has been many years since I have had to fend off would-be heros from my prey…er I mean, female companions. I gladly and heartily accept. Would love to meet over coffee to discuss general terms of capture and attempted rescue. If, however, your knight-errant fails in his quest for your hand, heart or any other body part, perhaps you would consider honoring my initial request.

Yours affectionately,

Beastie

OK, so I know its really goofy and has no literary value whatsoever, but it was fun to write.

This style of writing exercise is called using prompts. Someone gives you an idea, a word or a phrase and asks you to use some element of it in whole or part and write a story. The contest I entered last year gave us a starting phrase, “The fire burned…” and we had to write any story we wanted in less than 1500 words that started with that phrase.

This is one example of the kind of writing exercises we do at our writer’s meetings.

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Introduction


So, I decided to start this blog to write about my writing, my works and my writing process. I also plan to post small samples of my writing from time to time.

Who am I?

Well, in the writing world, I am a nobody. A neophyte. One of the millions of people who have been bitten by the writing bug who thinks she has the skill to write and something to say that other people may want to hear. Or, you know, read. In other words, a dillusional dreamer with the gift of gab that nobody knows.

What do I write?

Fiction. Mostly short stories right now. I do have two larger projects that I’m working on. I hope to turn one or both of those projects into novels. I call them projects, because they are not quite books yet. I have written basic outlines, charater sketches, plot summaries and a few chapters of each, but they haven’t really coalesced into anything even close to novels yet.

I’m not sure that I have a defined genre or style of writing yet. And I hate to really define what I’ve written so far. The short stories I’ve written are mostly creative non-fiction. I have taken events from my life, or the lives of people close to me, and created a mostly fictional story. Sometimes I combine events or take a single event and turn it into something completely different.

An example of this is a story I wrote about the night I went out to dinner with some friends. On the way to the restaurant, after I picked one of them up, my car broke down. It was a funny event and we still laugh about it to this day.

That night after dinner, I went home and sent a very funny e-mail out to some of my other friends describing the events of my automotive mishap. I took that e-mail, added some commentary on my general mechanical ineptitude, details about my long standing relationship with these friends, fictionalized parts of it and turned it into a very funny tale.

Why do I write?

Why not? I have a lot of stories and ideas floating around in my head. I create stories about what it would be like to live a different life or live in a different period in time. Or what an event would look like from someone else’s point of view. Some people call it daydreaming, and I guess, really it is. But I decided to try writing some of these stories and thoughts down to see where it takes me.

What is my writing process?

Well, I’m still developing that process actually. I started out just writing eveything down, every thought in my head with no style, reason or particular process. I had no idea what I was doing, or if I could actually do anything with it.

I told a friend of mine at a party that I was trying to write a story about this one character I had developed in my head and a total stranger asked me what writer’s group I belonged to.

I could join a writer’s group? Huh, I had never thought of that. He said that sharing my stories with a good writer’s group is a great way to learn about the process of writing and to get a serious critique on anything that I’ve written so far.

I didn’t really know of any good writer’s groups or what criteria one would have to meet to join a writer’s group, but I decided to try to find one. I went to the social networking site www.meetup.com and did a search for writer’s in my area and found one a half a mile from my house.

I wasn’t sure what I would find a writer’s meeting, or if they would even accept me. This group seemed to have a rigorous schedule of alternately reviewing the members’ written works and having workshops practicing the art and craft of writing. But I thought I would give it a try anyway.

What I found was a great group of very laid-back writers and writer wannabes like myself who are just muddling through this process called being a writer. We review each other’s works, give and receive constructive feedback. We discuss and practice different writing styles and have our own workshops. And we encourage each other to try and get published or enter different contests and share information about everything we find about writing.

It has been a great experience and I highly suggest finding or starting a group for anyone who is considering writing.

What have I published to date?

I can sum it all up in one word.

Nothing.

Well, not absolutely nothing, but still, pretty much nothing. Allow me to explain.

Shortly after joining the writer’s group, they encouraged everyone to write a story for a contest in the Writer’s Jounal magazine. So, I did. And I submitted it.

I did not win the contest. The winner had their story published in the magazine. I did, however, receive honorable mention in that magazine and had my name and story title printed in the magazine with five other people in a little block on the same page as the winning story. So, I guess that’s something. But it doesn’t really rise to the level of what I would really call published.

There is a possibility that some of my work is going to be published very soon. The aforementioned writer’s group that I belong to is putting together a collection of our group’s writings and some guidelines for running a successful writer’s group. We are going to self publish the book instead of going through a traditional publishing house. So, I do hope to be published very soon.

I cannot promise as to when or if this will happen, but we shall see. It was originally supposed to be done in October 2007. Then it was supposed to be finished by Christmas 2007. Then that date was moved to sometime in January 2008 which got pushed to February 2008. Then the launch party was supposed to be in March 2008. Then we talked about having it ready for some contest that we saw with a deadline sometime in April or May 2008. That didn’t happen either.

Now the current plan is to have it ready for another launch party set for some time in June or July.

It is all written as far as I know. Everyone who was slated to contribute stories or articles, to the best of my knowledge, has done so. So, hopefully, I will be able to post information about the book here very soon. By Christmas, at the very least.

It may never happen, and if it doesn’t that’s fine. I will continue to write my stories and try more traditional routes to publication.

What are my current projects?

Well, I’ve written a couple more short stories. Two were inspired by real life events, well, OK, actually all three were inspired by real life events. But one I’ve been writing for a contest in the Washington Post. They do a Valentine’s Day contest where they publish a picture and require that the story be inspired by the picture, about love in less than 1500 words.

I don’t know if I’ll actually enter the story I’m writing into the contest. My story is only half complete and has already far exceeded the 1500 word mark. I’m not sure what to do about that because I like the story in its entirety so far and feel that every event in the story is integral to the plot and final conclusion. Most likely, I will complete it and simply try to find another venue for publication. But, I will take it to the writer’s group and see if they have any suggestions on whether or not I should alter it to meet the contest specifications.

You see, that’s the thing about writing. What’s important to the writer and the story they feel compelled to tell may be completely different than what readers expect or want. And what sounds good to me, may actually be crap or may not actually be important to the story at all.

I guess that’s all I have to say about writing for now. Check back often because I’ll probably try to do at least a weekly update of what I’m working next.

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