Sunday, February 1, 2009

food for thought at writing group

It's been a little over a week already since my last Saturday afternoon writing group but it was a fabulous meeting in a lot of ways and I did want to write about it and remember it. There were a number of important insights that I walked away with: 

1. writing is about practicing in so many ways, there are so many ways to practice, I'm doing it, I'm glad I'm doing it, and I have way more practicing to do. And this is one reason why the novel I wrote in November was very good practice but almost certainly nothing I want to work on further.

2. Writing a novel has to be fueled by a kind of passion. I'm saying this wrong I'm pretty sure but what I'm trying to say is this and it came out of the conversation: something about how you have to be trying to write about something that matters, something that is real in some way. And when I started the novel I thought it was that, and in some ways it was, but ultimately it didn't hang together like that and when I am able to pull together a whole book in a unity of passion that will be the most likely keeper. Another reason why November was good practice but not the book I'm going to keep to work on more.

3. Writing 50,000 words in the month of November is a wonderful thing to do and the more Novembers you do it the more you learn, the more you practice, the more insights you have. So I need to be patient with myself as I am a baby at this.

4. I need to pay more attention to men. I talk to women, I hang out with women, I listen to women, I have intense connections with women. Aside from my father, my husband, my two sons, one remaining uncle, some boy cousins whom I hardly ever see but can connect up again wonderfully and quickly with when I do, and some grown-up male friends that I can count without using all the fingers of one hand, I don't really talk to men. (I have three lovely nephews and they should be in there somewhere.) This list got longer when I wrote it than I thought it would be but here is the thing: even these people, I don't have the kinds of conversations with that are perfectly natural and pretty common with my woman friends. My woman friends, my glorious woman friends, I cannot even count. And there is just such a complexity and layering of knowledge and connection. So the point is this: in novels I might write there would need to be human beings of both sexes and in order to write these novels I am going to need to know something about men. This is a huge assignment.

5. And as a wonderful bonus there was the great, down-and-dirty, super-quick and wonderfully productive narrative exercise I already blogged about.

Plenty of food for thought!

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