Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Writing is easy...

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -Gene Fowler (1890-1960).

Obviously, Good 'ole Gene left something out. I would assume he banged his head against the manual typewriter, or quill, before the drops formed. I find it a bit more difficult to manifest the drops of blood with our new technology, with rounded edges and more forgiving surfaces. So, I have glued a nail to my keyboard, pointed side up...and use that to self flagellate into procuring actual blood. What is a writer without a bloody keyboard? A lazy and non pious one!

I kid, really, no nail anyway...but I have found myself pacing, pulling hair, moving post-it's around on my storyboard, pacing some more before receiving an amazing epiphany, only to sit down and start banging it out and realizing. It doesn't work. That's when the head meets the keyboard in timed sequence begins...again!

Sometimes I wonder why my soul chose this profession to be the "passion". Why couldn't accounting, or law, or plumber have been "the ONE"? I knew a boy who always wanted to be a fireman. He never wavered from his goal, ever. He grew up, went to college, went to fireman school, became a fireman, met a woman, had two point two children....retired and became an arson investigator and never once questioned himself or his decisions. He's freaking even happy! If we were really smart, we would not even entertain the thought of this right?

Someone asked me once why I wanted to be a writer and I answered honestly, "It's not that I want to be a writer...it's just that I am. I have to write." It would be nice though, if I could make a living at it! Do you feel the same?

Perhaps Thomas Berger said it best, Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.

Isn't it kind of an awesome feeling to face a blank sheet of paper? Knowing that you can create a whole world, an entire cast of characters and a myriad of situations on it? YOU create an alternate universe...the trick is to make your inner fantasy believable and real to someone else. You must make other's care as much for your protagonist and consorts as well as make them fear, despise, or dislike your protagonist and company. Therein lies the challenge n'cest pas?

I often miss my characters when I don't have the time to get back to them and let them finish telling me their story. I've listened to successful writers tell me that you must absolutely control your characters and know the end of your story before you get there. In many ways, I agree. I know "tentatively" where I want the story to end up...but once my characters develop their own personalities...I find it hard to get them there just exactly the way I had envisioned. I have to make allowances for them. Yes, I control the keyboard, but there comes a point when the characters just cannot do what I originally wanted them to so in a sense. I create, throw some ink on the screen and my fictional characters and I finish together...everything I write is a collaboration with fictional people in the end! (call the men in little white coats!) As a reader, though, nothing turns me off more than a character who is set up, three dimensional, and then does something crazy just to move the story forward. My characters wouldn't stand for that!

I don't know why anyone would think our chosen passion is easy. They've obviously never tried it I suppose. But let me totally blow that observation out of the water here: Writing is easy. Simple as breathing. You just do it.

What I've learned though, is writing well enough to be considered for publication is a long, slow, arduous process and seems to take more practicality than creativeness. Part of it I know, it IS a business. At times I feel like an athlete that loved the game until it became a job.

But, regardless...I can't/won't quit. And all of you guys in "the group" have been so amazing keeping me motivated, positive and optimistic. You wipe the blood off my forehead and share your foibles and triumphs and without your support and enthusiasm...I'd be doing this all alone! I've been doing it alone for years and years and now that I've found y'all....I realize I'm not the only crazy dreamer still free!

I'll end with this. It's hard, it's frustrating, it's joyous and moving and fulfilling and it's the only thing I want to do. I hope someday to be able to earn the right to call it my only "job". Because there is nothing, to me, more fulfilling than to hit "the end" of my story. And nothing more challenging to rewrite the whole durn thing! (and make it better!) I've never given birth, but in a way, I think it might feel something like it. To hold the pages, measure their heft, and know I'm holding a world and a person(s) that I created. That has a beginning, a muddle, and an end! And hopefully people you can care about and root for and learn from.

I just want to tell stories...that's all. Unfortunately being a bard is no longer an option and I didn't' make enough being a court jester...so into the business I try to go....bloodied forehead, cramped fingers and aching neck! All of which, I could not do with you!

Thanks for listening to my writer's rant!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hey, Y'all!

DJ had a great idea and although it may have been collaborative in nature she presented it to us on Tuesday's library meeting. The idea was to have a weekly post for this blog, with each member of PnP signing on to take a week. If we all participate, we'll only have to do it about once every 8 weeks or so.

This is my week ;0)

As most of you know, after I mentioned that I'd suffered from writer's block in college and feared it happening again, madebyamanda suggested a book to me, Page after Page by Heather Sellers. At our last Monday meeting, I mentioned that the book was giving me fits because the exercises are so many and so... intense. The book is an Interlibrary Loan, and I'd already extended that IL twice so it was becoming a problem! But I vowed to make it through the book. At about Exercise 17 or 18, the "compost" (Ms. Sellers describes this in the book) really started to cook and I realized -- much to my own surprise -- that I was really doing some productive work following the exercises in this little book!

I think it's a book that a lot of y'all might like to read... and struggle through (!) as well. So, when I was up in Amarillo the other day, I ordered it from the Barnes and Noble! I want to retain ownership of it, but I will lend it out with a full heart to as many of you as wish to try to conquer it's summit! It's a tough little hardback, so it should withstand whatever we can collectively dish out. Hee.

Anyway, Ms. Sellers has some powerful exercises in the book and she backs it up with a rich and varied background-- not always pleasant. The woman has had her share of bumps in the road! But I feel it's been wholly a great experience going through the book, working the exercises -- even if I started the writing with an angry disclaimer as the first sentence: "WHAT is the POINT of this EXerCISE!!!" heh.

Hopefully, the book will be in my possession in a week or so -- and I will hand back the IL copy to Bren, finish the exercises in my newly purchased book, then offer it up to whomever wishes to try it out next.

The book will get you writing. I promise.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You were all so kind in your critique of my essay on “Dreams” at our Sept. 22 Pens and Pages meet. I admit to being a bit nervous before the meeting; worried that you would rip it to pieces, paragraph by paragraph. Instead, you offered some great suggestions and tips that I am planning to use in the future --- not just in the rewrite of “Dreams.”

I've been reading a lot of published memoirs to get a feel for the way other writers handle the struggle. Among the memoirs I've read lately are: "Driving With Dead People" by Monica Holloway, "The Rest of Her Life" by Laura Moriarty, and "The Glass Castle" by Jeannete Walls. This last one was on a bestseller list. For a true story, it is the strangest book I've ever read.

All you pretty ladies just keep on writing. We’re making progress.

Grannie Carol

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We will write! There are two new books about writing memoirs. Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg is one I bought in Santa Fe. It has good suggestions to keep us writing in new ways. The other book is The Memoir and the Memorist by Thomas Larson, my next project to read. They will soon be available in the genealogy department of the library.