Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Prelude


My cherished group of lady writers recently met for our monthly sharing of prose. Collectively, we are 17 talented women of diversified nationalities including: German, British, French, Bahamian, American, Canadian, Canadian of Aboriginal/Native ethnicity, and French Canadian. With such expansive backgrounds, one can imagine how dissimilar our stories turn out.


Our founding member lives away and no longer attends meetings. Chances are that the remaining 16 are not on island simultaneously. Excluding our Bahamian member, we are expatriates, or “Ex-pats,” as we are commonly referred to.Therefore, most of us frequently travel to visit family and friends. Some have second homes to attend to, while others travel for pleasure, business or medical reasons. Of course, being women, we all have that one obsession in common: we like to shop - another glorious reason to travel. (Florida is a short plane ride away and a day-trip for shopping purposes is not unheard of, especially prior to the jingle bell season.)

In my cluster of writers, several are published authors; two have works in progress; and others simply enjoy the craft and the companionship – but, in the end, we are all writers, which reminds me of my freshmen year in college.

I was quite upset when I received a “C+” on my English paper and requested an appointment with my professor to argue my point. I no longer remember what she looked like, but I imagine she must have had a mean face and a disheveled appearance, for who else would have graded my paper so poorly!

Eyeing my paper once again, she asked me what my goals were when I completed college. I stated that I wanted to be an author. Her reply, although correct, did not sit well with me at the time. More than likely, that was due to her unwavering viewpoint in regards to my grade. 

She said, “You don’t need an "A" on an English paper to become a writer or an author.” 

Okay, I didn’t and don’t, and she was correct - disheveled or not. 

But getting back to our meetings, the writing group normally meets for 2 hours at the residence of the member that has volunteered her house for that particular gathering. Aside from leading the meeting, it is her responsibility to provide the morning beverage and light finger foods. It’s also her role to select a specific theme to write about, which we then read aloud and afterwards, listen to the gentle critiques from our peers.

Although I do look forward to hosting, a particular dog of mine is a bit of a nuisance when company is around. To overcome the potential disturbance, I either elect a local restaurant for the venue, or deal with the unruly, but beloved beast.

For this past meeting, I cleverly dealt with it by providing both dogs with leftovers - 2 massive T-bones. It turned out that the bones were a Godsend, as not a woof-woof was heard from either pet. 

In the past, some of our topics have included: Disappointment, Betrayal, Recycling, Genetics, Sex, Bahamian Music, Equal Opportunities, Obesity, Emptiness, Power, Fantasy, and A Children’s Story. In regards to the later, I have my fellow writers to thank for selecting this theme, as it forced me to kick “The Big Bad Rain Monster” out of my head, onto paper and publish it. 

Choosing a topic is more intricate than it sounds and after some juggling, I finally selected one: "Smoke." As with all topics, the ladies build their story around the topic. Whether or not they opt to write entirely about “Smoke,” or just briefly mention it, depends on their particular plot and ideas.

To jump-start the meeting, a quote on writing is normally read, but as hostess, I had alternate plans. 

Prior to the meeting, I had contacted our founder, and asked her to submit some words on “Smoke.” I was thrilled that she consented and I shared her writing with the group. Her words eloquently flowed and we clearly captured what she described. Wouldn't you agree that those are traits of a good writer; enabling the reader, in this case, the listener, to feel as if she were present in the exact place as the writer; that she is living the story as well? And, what about the sensation of goose flesh, or deep emotions that overtake us when reading; aren't these all indications that the writer has developed a worthwhile read? Her story was also logical, and paced so that we were further drawn into each succeeding paragraph. I personally think these are all qualities worth striving for. And so I write with the hopes of one day becoming that writer who genuinely moves the reader with her written word.

I think I've expressed some of these qualities in “The Big Bad Rain Monster,” but I have a long way to go in my future writings. And, although “The Big Bad Rain Monster,” is a children’s story with a gentle message, I am more inclined to write deep, dark and gory, such as the writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. I said that I was inclined to write like them, but I did not say, nor mean to imply that I was on their level - big difference, for sure. 

And so, my personal take on “Smoke” started off slightly scary; was edited to a mystery/guess who, and ended by me contacting The Girl Scouts of Greater New York.  

Sounds intriguing? Well, considering the length of this post, I’ll end here, leaving you perhaps a little baffled with not having read my version of “Smoke,” or knowing why The Girl Scouts were notified. However - and I really am putting myself out there on this one - if I receive a fair amount of requests to read my slightly bizarre version of "Smoke," I’ll blog it on my next post.  

Anyone game?

2 comments:

  1. This is so interesting and well written, Jeralyn, that you should submit it in some form to a writers' magazine. I would also love to read your piece on "Smoke"!

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    1. Funny, Fay! Thanks for finding this post "so interesting," and to even suggest it for a mag! Oh, boy.
      "Smoke" is coming up. Although you seem to be the only one that makes comments here on my blog, oh, and LS who is away, I did receive requests via emails for "Smoke." I will post it, but heed my warning: It is a bit "off the wall!"

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