We worked on the whisper exercise as described in the previous day's blog. We all wrote for thirty minutes or so and then read our writings out loud. Last time, we read each other's writings, but of course this time they were chicken scratched out in thirty minutes by hand, so the ligibility issue seemed legitimate, as well as the issue of maybe dropping out a word or two and punching up the grammar as you go. So we read a range of things, which was fun. The point of the exercise is that even starting with a similar or even identical jumping off point, a group of writers will head different directions. That realization led us into a discussion of "first line" contests, which I mentioned here recently and which one of the gals in the group (maybe Amy, maybe Caithlyn) mentioned she found in a writers magazine that Borders has. Not the Writer or Writers' Digest, maybe it was Writers' World, but that does not sound right, either. Anyway, the magazine had a number of contests, including some of the "first line" variety. I mentioned the "First Line" magazine that I had seen, and we all agreed that this type of exercise would make for a good one for us in the future some time. I am sticking with the ones for the other mag, so I hope we do not get into too much of a conflict on that score. The group seems pretty open to the variety of experiences that we will all bring to the group and not be too terribly legalistic about this all.
We decided to keep having regular assignment for the meeting. This time we need to do one thousand to five thousand words based on a song or a piece of music. I am leaning toward using Bruce Cockburn's "Child of the Wind," which I consider my theme song. I have gone to the Bruce Cockburn Project web site, which includes all of Cockburn's lyrics and all of his recorded comments upon those songs. It is a neat web site, and I was able to grab the lyrics to "Child of the Wind" from it. I am leaning towards something like a conversation between a man and his wife maybe, explaining his philosophy. Or a story where every paragraph starts with the next line form the song. Or maybe something like that. It is a great song, a great message, and comes from a really great character. I think that my interpretation of this version of Cockburn's expressions could make for a good story. Or I could be as uncreative as possible and write some other story with the song in the background. I will have to decide this in the next few weeks or so, so I can begin the actual thinking of the story and then of course the actual writing of the story will follow that.
Anyway, we will have regular writing assignments, but we may not always go over them as part of the actual meeting. For example, this time, I brought my assignment, as did others, but we did not go over them in the meeting. Instead, we passed them around to someone willing to read them for crit purposes. I switched with Allison, who also sent hers to other for reading. This is good, because I have no experience in a crit group, and do not know how to approach this. Here I am, a professional educator who grades things for a living, and I am concerned about my ability to give good criticism. It is a little odd, I suppose. Most people would be concerned about receiving criticism, and here I am concerned about giving it. Oh well, I have her story on my list of things to do this weekend, and I will get to it soon. Then I have to figure out what to right and how to express it and how to get it to her in a reasonable way. Not too tough, not too easy. I am looking to this writers' group as a learning experience, and I see my ability as a crit group member one of the things that I have to learn. I look forward to it, and expect the group to react to my nascent abilities in this area with understanding and grace.
I like the way the group is shaping up. We will be mostly a social group in terms of the monthyl meetings, meeting for encouragement, updates, assignments, and so forth. The heavy duty work will probably be done outside of the meetings, through the Yahoo! site and crit meetings. But all of this will be done in the context of the group itself and as part of the larger group. I think that that is important. I have high hopes for this group.