A Thousand Words A Day

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

This is what we did at the meeting on Tuesday of the Na No Wri Mo group. We did two in-class writing assignments. I will talk about the second one first, which I guess came form Amy's writing class at O S U. At least, that was my impression. She gave us a stack of photographs to go through, selecting one that would serve as the jumping off point or the characters in the story. I selected one with three women in an office setting. She then gave us an opening line ("I am a very superstitious person") and told us to just start writing a scene. A minute or two into it, she gave us another line, which had to be the next line used ("I refuse to see a doctor"), then a few minutes later she gave us another line ("But if you really want to know the truth . . . "), then a few minutes later, told us we were done. I had to cheat just a little, as a worked in another line before I got to the second, but nonetheless, here is what I came up with. I ended up with a story that made the ladies laugh, even though it has no attribution obviously and even though the picture had three people, this is a dialogue just between two of them . . . just for simplicity's sake.

"I am a very superstitious person."
"I know that I respect that, but this is nutty."
"Just because casual friday is going to fall on the 13th, you don't think we should do it?"
"Of course not. The gods of this realm do not like Khaki Dockers. And they are not real wild about golf shirts, either."
"What are you talking about?"
"I refuse to see a doctor."
"What? Who said anything about seeing a doctor?"
"You just did."
"I did not."
"Well maybe not, but you were thinking it."
"What are you ranting about?"
"I saw into your soul."
"Oh, then just tell me one thing. Was my soul wearing Dockers and a golf shirt?"
"Don't be silly. That is just silly."
"Me, silly. You are calling me silly? Look here, Little Miss Pot Calling The Kettle Black."
"But if you really want to know the truth, you should speak to my personal astrologer."
"You have a personal astrologer? And I take it they do not like casual friday?"
"No, that would be silly. She does not like casual friday the 13th."
"Well, you can tell Miss Cleo of Dionne Warwick or whoever that you can not take tomorrow off for this reason. It is just crazy."
"Well, I will just give you her number and you can call. It is one nine hundred . . . "
"Stop right there! You are paying two ninety nine a minute for this mumbo jumbo?"
"It is three ninety nine. But no, I am not actaully paying for it myself."
"What do you mean?"
"The company is."
"This company? Are you trying to tell me that you have been calling your personal astrologer from here? From the office?"
"Well, yes, but only during my lunch."
"You know, I have reconsidered. You should definitely take tomorrow off . . . to look for another job!"

I thought that was actually O K for getting written in such a short amount of time. Not a story, but just a scene, and that is some of what need to get through my head. I raced to actually find an ending, which I thought might be a struggle. But I did an adequate job at it, as it turns out. But the Cockburn story a while back was a scene and not a story, so I guess I am getting into the groove. It is very difficult to become a good novelist except be writing bad novels . . . at least that was my thought before I got into this group. I am new to this whole workshop / writing practice / writing group world. It is a world that I am trying to get into and take some of the strengths from and ignore the weaknesses. So what we did was do this writing and read them out loud. I got a very good reaction. There was no formal crit or analysis or anything like that. But they laughed. And they laughed out loud. This was a very good feeling. I liked that reaction, and I know that I can do it O K. Writing funny is very hard, and I do not know if this would have been funny JUST on paper, without the reading out loud. I was able to accent and emphasize what I wanted to, and read it at the pace and tone that I thought was funny. But it is not an easy thing to accomplish. I write serious fiction, in terms of most of my novels, although they have very light tones, at least some of them do. So I am not trying to write funny, but I am trying to write light with a light tone, and I hope I can pull it off in the long run.

Amy did not do this assignment, because she knew all the people in the pictures! And we also needed someone to keep the time and do the assignment monitoring, reading off wha the next line had to be, whatever. It was nice working in that relaxed a manner, with the homeyness and the cat and the comfy furniture. Allisons' was very good, too. She had a picture of some sort of goofy looking guy, or at least a guy in a goofy sort of pose and she was able to put together a humorous story or scene about who the guy was and what would cause him to make that particular odd gesture. She has a good handle on words and language, and writes good sentences. I do not know enough of her work to say that she is a good writer of paragraphs and chapters and books, but she has words and sentences down pretty well.


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