Sunday, February 21, 2010

Writing Group

Today I am joining a new writing group. I went last month, but it was only two other women, professors, who shared their work. I didn't take anything I had written. I gave them a synopsis of my current novel. The three other professors couldn't make it, so we were an intimate group eating soup and bread. The talk veered from writing to teaching and back again. I nearly nodded off as the other women read their work. (Note to self: Don't drink the wine before the readings.)
This will be different today. I have printed off seven pages to share with the group and I find myself very nervous.
One of the women in the group is a playwright. She has had plays produced off, off Broadway. That's much closer than I've ever gotten. One of the guys is a poet. I can't imagine I'll have much to add when he reads. Poetry swims somewhere over my head for the most part.
One of the no-nonsense women is writing a mystery. She has hard-boiled detectives searching for clues. Another woman is writing a short story about a married couple who settled for each other. She is a little quirky, but has never been married, so this may be interesting.
I struggled with which of my scenes to take. I don't want to spend 10 minutes setting up the novel which none of them knows anything about, so I chose a scene near the beginning where Great Uncle Martin calls Fia and asks her to come to France to run his bed and breakfast.
The pages are spread out in front of me now. Black type on white paper. I read them and read them again. I jot down notes. I hope they like it.
That's it basically. I want them to like what I wrote. I want them to give me a pat on the back. I suppose they'll have suggestions for improving it, and I kind of dread the conversation that will go: "Yeah, I explained that in the pages before." Or, "I go into more detail on that in the next chapter."
Somewhere in this blog's history is a brief synopsis of my current novel, but I can't find it to link to it. So here it is in a nutshell:
Fia has lost her job as a home design reporter and is avoiding phone calls about bills, but she's certain something good will come her way when the phone rings with an offer from her great Uncle Martin. He and his wife Lucie run a bed and breakfast in France. They want Fia and her husband Grayson to run the B&B while they take a break – maybe a permanent one. Uncle Martin sends airline tickets and Fia convinces Grayson to use some of his long-acquired vacation time to travel to France with their 14-year-old twins. She feels sure that this is a chance to cement the family that is growing more distant and to just LIVE and learn from another culture.
What she doesn’t know is that Uncle Martin has a secret from World War II that he has hidden from everyone, including his wife. The clicking on the phone convinces him someone has discovered his secret. As an innocent Kentucky teenager fighting in World War II, he took a rolled up painting from a church in northern Italy. The painting is the most famous piece of art still missing from World War II – Painting of a Young Man by Rafael. He can’t, he won’t, be punished for a teenage mistake and he won’t spend his few remaining years behind bars or bring shame to his French wife, Lucie. He wants to leave the country before his secret is revealed and he must face the consequences.
Fia and her family land in Provence. Grayson and the children are immediately swept into the French culture, making friends and sightseeing, while Fia is left to run the bed and breakfast and wonder about the family closeness she hoped to create.

Obviously, this story line is evolving and has gone past the synopsis above. I'm at 54,000 words now.
I think I described before that reviewing a novel as I write it is like knitting while someone pulls the stitches out behind me. It's hard to make progress.
In real time, in real life though, my novel is progressing. It beckons me during the day when I'm grading papers. I wake up at five and stumble to the computer to type pages about an American woman and the famous painting her uncle took during World War II. I feel like this woman as she rides on the back of a motorcyle, resting her helmeted head against the back of the man in front of her, the man who is taking her to Poland to return the famous painting.
I hope they like it.


BigLittleWolf said...

Wandered onto your spot via Tish's Femme d'un certain Age blog. Happy to have found you. Always love hearing about / reading about writing groups, especially when they seem to really provide such motivation. Would that there were one in my area, so accessible. Or even online.

Will stop by again!

Paulita said...

Thanks for stopping by. It wasn't nearly as terrifying as I feared. Lots of affirmation and some ideas for tightening a few scenes. Yea!

Love A Good Support Group said...


Okay, I know its not a "support" group (that would be too hokey) but a group with a common interest.....

A big pat on the back for joining the writing group. I have no doubt that you will get so much out of the company of other writers and they will receive so much from you.

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