It’s Tuesday again! And every Tuesday you will be
subjected to regaled by the writing progress I have made over the last week. But! I insist that I not be the only one exposing myself sounding off. Let your comments reflect what kind of suffering butt-kicking you have done too!
Stuff I have accomplished this past week:
1. Critiqued my writing group’s work in an experimental way.
There I was, reading one of my buddies submissions while peddling away on the stationary bike. (It’s hard to make marks that way.) — And no, that wasn’t the experiment. But it’s where I came up with the experiment. When I was done sweating away literally and figuratively, I go to my husband and say, “Spouse, how about we take one submission every night this week and take turns reading alternating pages aloud? Then we get to experience the stories in aural and oral fashion.” (Not as kinky as it sounds.)
Spouse says, “Sure. Why not.” Because he’s so agreeable.
And that’s what we did. As you can imagine, many interesting things came up.
First: Reading aloud does help in a couple ways. The most obvious is that typos and awkward sentences JUMP out and PUMMEL you. Especially if you’re silently going right along and your partner, who is reading aloud, stumbles. You didn’t stumble because your eye just glided right over the pothole in the road. Not so much when you hear it.
Second: It’s not all good, this experimental style. Since you are reading with a partner, the old law of observing changing the observed comes into play. I didn’t have as much of an opportunity to let the story sink in. I had a harder time with the overall critique, though I think the line critique got stronger. I don’t know if I have as many structural notes (don’t get me wrong, I still have the bigger notes) but I don’t know how detailed they are.
Third: Even though you don’t get to sink into the story, you are forced early on to articulate yourself. As you stare at a section while your critique partner waits, you have to explain why you’re making them wait. At first it comes out as “Wait a sec, something’s not right here.” Then you have to ponder. Then your partner ponders.
Then you say: “I have a problem with such and such motivation.”
Partner says: “Like, there is none?”
And you say: “No, not like that. But would the squirrel really run across the street like that? After watching his whole family go the same way?”
Partner says: “Have you never observed squirrel behavior?”
Then the conversation disintegrates from there–you use every piece of zoological information that you retain from 10th grade ecology classes, your partner counters with every time he’s ever driven a car…and you have to think further on your position. It can be rough going.
2. Not much else, really. I finished another bothersome chapter, but am pretty darn certain that I rushed it in a desperate need to get it done. In the Hero’s Journey, I believe that this chapter would be what is known as the Call to Action. Who knew calling would be such a pain in the tush? I think it has enough information to allow me to charge through to the next chapters easily enough…then I can go back and shift stuff around. MUST HAVE MORE MATERIAL my brain yells! Words, words, words!
3. Oh, I did do something else. I finished my first ever notebook from page one to page 160, a la Virginia Woolf! Didn’t feel like dating stuff. Didn’t feel like begging for forgiveness if I missed a day or sixteen. I wrote in it when I needed it. And I’m on to my second one. Being the same size and whatnot, I figure that I’ll be done with that one around December. Whoo-hoo!
All right guys, let’s hear your triumphs!
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.