Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where Are the Writers?

I recently attended a local writing group. We met in a loud, crowded cafe at a table in the middle of incessant conversations and eating. Two of us wear hearing aids and the sun pouring through the windows blinded those of us facing them. Finally I saw the attendees and heard them speak after the lunch crowd had dispersed.

No order nor business was conducted. This was a "casual" meeting of writers. So what did I learn at that first meeting? One writer was working on a screenplay. He got to tell us where he got the notion to do so and that was his one minute of attention. A late comer H, an excited new writer joined us wearing the joy and excitement of having put together something of which he was proud. I glanced through his picture book with prose adjacent and knew he needed work to put depth into his prose, but on the whole he needed support. "Anyone, please look at this and tell me if I'm on the right track." No one took up the mantle of support. One visitor, who says he's an intellect without a Harvard education, isn't a writer. He calls himself a physicist who likes to tell everyone about his favorite subject. I call him a "tag-along." He gave a critique for the visitor that was out of the ballpark. In the first place, he didn't know what he was saying. Second, he kept trying to tell the newbie how to write it the way that was already written.

I left shortly thereafter, thinking an hour with this group wanting to stay connected with each other wasn't doing much in the surrounding din . I took away the plea of newbie, "Help me." Unfortunately, I left without his contact address. His cry is the same for many who need help with their writing. A writing group should have time to give help to the new writer who lives in his own small world and wants to expand. But how? Where?

So many people are writing nowadays who'll never get their work published on the mass market. They'll write and behave like they will, but everyone except themselves won't  see the shallowness of their work as others do. Someone once proclaimed "Everyone can write." That isn't a blanket that covers you with ideas and thoughts you hammer out on the computer or with the stub of a pencil. Everyone can write but not without guidance. We need a writing group to help fledgling writers.

 Everyone can write their stories for their loved ones. You simply begin to put your thoughts on paper. Even if you don't know the fine points of a good story, you allow your mind to open to experiences and stories locked in your head. Writing by hand, on typewriters or computers, anyone can write remembrances. No mass marketing, no hard copies, they produce nothing more than typed papers connected with a paper clip. These are the writers who'll achieve success in small ways because they have reachable goals.

That's my job nowadays. I push adults in a free library series to probe their memories and write sentences, paragraphs, or pages about their growing up. I insist they are writing the past for the future generations. I believe what I'm saying, and the teaching of such subject reinforces my belief. I've had wonderful stories come from numerous adults who are writing about their first loves, early childhood, marriage, divorce, parental relationship, career choices, war time and other eras of history. The group remembers the polio shots (as one participant wrote), first toy they ever owned, first time to eat margarine, ration books of WWII, first car they bought, and so on. There is no limit to what memory dictates as stories.

Somewhere near their writing space I've asked my students to print this sign and read it daily:


1 comment:

gluttonforlife said...

I'll keep this in plain sight. Every writer needs reminding!