At the end of July, 12 women from the writers workshop got together here at my house, and we decided to move forward. We felt we’d established a rapport, trusted each other, and a critique group would add a level of accountability to our writing.
At the end of last months meeting we had a basic frame work in place. We decided that our schedules would only allow us to meet once a month. We like meeting in houses – so whoever was the hosts was off the hook for providing food and drink.
After a long bit of discussion we figured there were two part of the workshop we wanted to recreate. We liked being able to read our works in progress – and get feed back on the strengths/weaknesses. We were surprised to find out how long it took to review just 3 pages of a work – and frequently felt the 3 pages were too brief a glimpse of what was going on within the work. So – we decided we’d submit for review 9 pages – but only read out loud – and critique 3 pages selected by the author within the 9 pages. These 9 pages would be e-mailed to the group the Wednesday before we met.
Submitting and reading would be voluntary – and we’d review 3 works each month. If you weren’t submitting a work, then you were responsible for bringing a nibble and a drink.
The second part of the workshop experience that we wanted to replicate were the writing prompts. There are all types of prompts. Some are just to get you writing, but within our workshop the prompts always had a lesson or goal – besides just writing, behind them.
So it was agreed we’d devote the second half of our two hours to a prompt. Who ever hosted the critique was responsible for developing the prompt. It could take any shape or form the hostess desired – from free write to structural writing lesson. 10 minutes to set up/explain the prompt, 15 minutes to write – then go around the room and critique.
Today was our first “official” gathering. It went well – but we’ll have to become better at managing our time. Seems not only do we like to write, we also like to talk, and tell stories. (Guess we shouldn’t be surprised right?)
The only piece of unfinished business is what to call ourselves. The workshop was “Focus on Fiction”, “Wild Writing Women”, “Lit Chicks”, and “Writing for More Than a Dream” have all been suggested as possible monikers – we’ll see where we end up.
Today’s writing prompt was about using the two types of symbolism – “Universal Suggestions of Meaning” – like the use of flowing water to suggest time and eternity, and “Suggestive Symbolism” – where the symbol acquires its suggestiveness not from the qualities of the symbol, but from the way it’s used within the story.
The three choices for a “Universal Meaning” were:
1.) Use the ocean as a symbol. The ocean is the beginning of life on Earth, and symbolizes formlessness, the unfathomable, and chaos. The ocean can also be seen as a symbol of stability, as it can exist largely unchanged for centuries. The ocean is considered to be boundless, a place where one can easily be lost, and can therefore be seen to represent the boundless span of life, and the way one can get lost on the journey through life.
2.) Endow meaning from the color of green as a symbol. Green is a dualistic color. It can represent envy, evil, and trickery, and/or growth, renewal, and life, as lush vegetation. In Arthurian legend the green knight slew all who attempted to cross his bridge, until he was killed by Arthur. In this respect green can be seen as death's unbiased nature and the slaying of the naive.
Vegetation, earthly, growing things. Fertility, Mother Earth, life, nature. Resurrection, permanence, and love, which was the color of Aphrodite, Greek love goddess, born from the green sea. It is usually a feminine color, but is also one of neutrality, passivity and indecision. In most Shakespeare the sea is green, and is often related to memory. A sign of freshness and youth along with virtue and peace. Hospitality and knowledge also follow. Can be thought of as expectation in relation to spring hopes. As the national color of Ireland it is supposed to bring luck, especially on St. Patrick's Day.
In psychology, related to sensations, persons liking green are often defensive and withdrawn or cold.
3.) Use the image of the sun. The sun is the absolute cosmic power; it is the universal father, while the moon is the universal mother; it is often symbolized by the wheel or the disk, a circle or a ball; it is the center of being and intuition, it is knowledge and warmth, glory and splendor.
Or – you could choose Suggestive Symbolism. The three choices were:
We didn’t get to this part of the critique, so I think it will roll over to next month. But overall I am very excited. The group is composed of a few women who are involved professionally with the writing world (editors, free-lance reporters), English teachers, people with Master Degrees in English – and a few who are close to seeking publication and/or representation.
I think it’s a great mix – and can’t wait to see who comes out on the other side!