Monday, January 5, 2009

The Writing Journey Continues

My journey into the literary world of literature, and feeling more like a tadpole in a large pond than the full-grown grey-haired woman that I am, and as a child and young woman, I read books feverishly as entertainment and being taken to a place that I might never gone had I not read, and now I read to understand the mechanics of writing.

It’s not that you don’t enjoy the story, for you do, but with a greater sense of pleasure and clarity as you attempt to master the art of the craft. The group, Sweet Hearts of The Rodeo this week has read several story’s by Lauren Groff, an excellent writer I must say, and quite young. As well as another writer, that I probably would not have read had it not been part of the groups exercise, and that is “The Year of Silence” by Kevin Brockmeier. The ending of this story is fascinating in that he uses Morse code to reveal a message…I shall not tell what I came to believe the message was …read the story in “The Best American Short Stories 2008.”

Exploring these stories through the eyes of analysis has brought a new perspective to my own writing, and learning to read back over what I have written, for I have noticed that I drop many words, important words you might say and hopefully I have not dropped any here (we’ll see). And as Robert Olen Butler stresses in his lectures (that the group is reviewing monthly and giving their comments and impressions on, as we finish each session) that he reads, and re-reads, as he picks up from where he leaves off in the previous session and that it isn’t about the quantity of words each day that you write, but the quality.

And as I explore the world of literary writing, I learn also, there is a lot of research involved in writing. It isn’t all about an idea or person you might have in mind to write a story about, let’s say you want to write about a character diving for sunken treasure… you need specific details to make it believable. Now Robert Olen Butler in his writing workshop indicates that before the writer even starts a story, or gets into the zone (the dream state) that you have to know what the character yearns for, and it should begin with the first sentence and every sentence thereafter. Okay, let’s follow Butler’s lead (I have a picture that shows a treasure chest in the ocean) and I have a character in mind that yearns for the quest…he isn’t interested in the booty, as much as the glorious aspect of the find.

I know what the character yearns for, and I look at the picture some more to see what it tells me and I know that I don’t have a clue where to begin. Okay, I’m going to have to do a lot of research and as the character I believe I’m going to have to hire someone with experience. With this, I’ll end for I have the crust of the story, along with a lot of possibilities.
Happy Writing!!!


  1. Great commentary, Joan!

    I'm in wading through a story right now and I've found out I'm not going to get anywhere unless I research the geographical location, the economy, the history, and the weather.
    Yeah. The weather. The story has emerged, but the details have got me working late. There was a time when it was enough to simply "fudge" my way through a story. I find that in order to actualize my story, this isn't enough.

    I look back on some of my early work and wince. How did I ever think it would be enough to skim through the particulars of place and person?

    Mr. Butler has taught me to slow down and accept the fact that a good story requires time, effort, and detail.

    L. Raven

  2. Thanks Raven,
    And I look forward to more of your insightful comments and can't wait to read more of Bennie...what wonderful writing.



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