You can't be a
writer until you first learn how to be a human being. Most people think they can
skip the first part -- or pick it up later. It shows in their work.
~ David Gerrold
One Corpse Too Many
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WRITING DOWN THE BONES
2 May 2004
The writers group held its first meeting last week, when I was in Seattle. The report was that one person showed up, other than the facilitator.
I felt that I was getting in on the ground floor and felt comfortable in such a small group, my usual reticence for joining groups taking a back seat. I could handle half a dozen people. Wed work together to bring in others. The group would grow.
Well...Uh...yeah! In the past 2 weeks the facilitator had posted signs around town and yes, the group had grown.
Joan decided to come with me too, and by the time we got there, a little late, since the book store where the meeting was being held had moved from one part of town to another part of town, there was already a group so large they were looking to add a second table and bring in more chairs.
Ultimately there were 17 of us, the youngest looking like a guy in his mid 20s, all the way through the decades to a white haired man sitting next to me, a horse trainer who still raises thoroughbreds, who is writing his memoirs.
Our experience and interest level was also diverse. Several are working on memoirs, either with or without the benefit of a class. One woman is interested in ethnic diversity and just loves interviewing people and learning about them. Another has written a book for middle-school age children about surviving divorce. The book is 3 years in the process and has been shopped around to publishers (so far with no nibbles). Someone else mentioned that her writing is humorous (hmmm...competition...). One woman wants to get back into writing fiction. Several of us keep journals.
As we went around the circle, telling our stories, we each had something positive to offer. I shared information about Dr. Gs experience finding a publisher, and on the status of on-line publishing today and gave people the url for Lulu.com. (Didja check out my new calendar on Lulu?) A gentleman who is retired from the Parks Service (he worked at Fort Point, one of my favorite spots in San Francisco) has been doing Julia Camerons "The Artists Way" for years and swears by its methods for freeing up creativity.
Other book suggestions followed, including Natalie Goldbergs "Writing Down the Bones," and Anne Lamotts "Bird by Bird."
We discussed how we want the group to operate. Were going to meet on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays for an hour and a half, bring things we want critiqued, and then see where we go from that point. The horse trainer also invited people to join a group that he has in his home, and mentioned a class that is also held at the book store, and Joan has invited me to join a group of people at her house, who meet regularly and who are working on writing their memoirs. So it seems that there is suddenly a whole world of opportunity out there for getting serious about writing.
At the conclusion of the group, the woman interested in diversity pulled me aside to talk with me about a project shes working on, which involved a lot of interviews she did in Poland. She mentioned that shes "a terrible transcriber." I quickly ducked into a phone booth and emerged as SUPERTRANSCRIPTIONSIT! When she saw my cape and "S" on my chest, her eyes lit up and she said that if she can find any money to pay someone, she will definitely contact me about doing some work for her.
Heck, this might end up being more than simply a way to get serious about writing. But if all that happens is that I get a chance to have some nice interaction with other people who are interested in writing, that will be a good outcome of this first foray out of my house and into the world.
I was supposed to meet the volunteers at the SPCA at 2:30, but had warned them I might be late. In fact, I didnt leave until after the Kentucky Derby (congratulations, Smarty Jones!). By the time I arrived, a lot of the crowd had thinned. They didnt have a lot of dogs this week--just two adults and 2 puppies. There were more cats than dogs. I did my best with the photos, but nobody seemed to know what I was there for, or what to have me do.
When I got home and checked the SPCA web site, I discovered that all of the animals I photographed today had pictures on the web site already, some of which were better than mine. But I did get better cat pictures than they had, so I sized and zipped the lot and shipped them off to the webmaster and they can decide what they want me to do (or not do).
It was fun doing it, whether this becomes a regular thing or not. There was a very sweet little terrier mix, very mellow who caught my eye, but the chemistry was not right, even if she was very cute.
Its been a productive day and I can take the night off to watch a Netflick or two with a clear conscience. I even have my review of Gypsy written and shipped off to the paper a whole two days early.