Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Serif Genre Mtgs and First Workshop

The first genre meetings for Serif were Monday and Tuesday and they went well. The fiction meeting started off slow due to a simultaneous meeting but overall it ended on a high note. There was lots of good discussion and people seems interested and invested in getting their ducks in a row to submit. The one drawback was we ended the meeting without definite magazines picked out to submit to. I understand this is a process that may require a little more time than one hour on a Monday night, but I want to keep everyone focused and committed to the end goal. Thus, part of that is to have a clear idea of where one is submitting to and the requirements of that magazine. But I did encourage active research all this week and a decision by early next week. It is not that I want them to rush into something being unsure, but I want to try and keep them on track and serious about exposing their work to the world. I have good feelings overall.

The poetry meeting, which I was sorry I could not attend even though I REALLY wanted to seemed to go very well. I heard very good feedback from its participants and that group seems very full throttle. I might ask for them to switch their meeting time so I can join because I really want to try and resubmit the poems that were just recently rejected :). My favorite thing about the meeting was I heard Alex, my poetry genre lead, brought everyone envelopes. I love it. That is a fantastic way to subtly get the message out there that we need to submit more. They decided to pick one general magazine for all to try and submit too as well as their own individual choices. I'm a little envious sure, but poetry seems to be an easier genre to turn around and submit elsewhere if rejected. I say this only based on the vast size difference between one typical short story and one typical poem.

My first workshop was Monday night and I was excited to get feedback. The story I submitted was unlike any other story I've tried to write. For one it had nudity in it. [dramatic pause] It was about a woman getting a massage. [sigh of disappointment] However, I used words like panties, which I despise and had to listen to people talk about nude this nude that all workshop. What did I expect right? I'm not a prude, but I don't often discuss these things with 12 acquaintances either. Long story short I was slight giddy and tried not to giggle like a child when people were talking. The general comments concerning my story were expected. I already mapped out some of the changes needed in the draft and nodded along as people pointed them out. Majority of the class read my main character as sympathetic. This was surprising to my professor. He read her as despicable. Though I will admit this was not my original intent.

His take on my story was very interesting and different from what I usually go for in a story. Although I do not think it will make me change my story around to make his reading of it the dominant one, I dig that he is able to go there with what I gave him. The one thing he did say that I am not sure I agree with completely is his take on associative/memory driven writing. His stance is many have tried to do this over the years and it never works out great. Then my question to him would be, how then does one write in that style well? My classmate assumes his answer is not to write in that style at all. I will soon find out in our one-on-one conference next Monday. And if he is reading my blog I guess he has a few more days to think it over. Alice Munro utilizes this style in many of her story. I have often been referenced to her after someone reads one of my stories. As far as I can tell she is a very successful writer.

His comment I think rather stems from his specific taste in writing. This is more or less something that comes through very clear in many of his class comments and story selections. I don't like to pigeon hold anyone into a category or type but George Saundars was his teacher and he mentioned liking Kurt Vonnegut. I am not arguing it is necessarily a bad thing. His taste are very different from everyone in the class. Thus, he is essentially opening our eyes to other options and giving us techniques we may not have otherwise explored to use in our own stories. However, it is yet to be determined if he will let his taste dictate his workshop suggestions and comments. My story is rough and still able to be bent down any avenue of style, theme, and plot change. I loved his take on my story. The rest is TBD.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First Story Results

The week was rough. My goals were high. The move went well but nothing has quite found it's proper place yet. A small detail that made finishing my story and keeping up with my word count difficult. It is hard to concentrate on what a character is going to do next when there is a mess waiting to be dealt with at the end of one's desk. The results of my 500 daily word count were fair/good. I was more or less about 250 words behind after the first two days. But I did make a honest attempt each day to sit down and write something even when completely uninspired. I did beat myself up over it a few times too. I said self, this is what you do, you are a writer. 500 words a day should be a small afternoon snack. I blame my type A tendencies. I often want to write scenes in order and over think what perfect word I need for a line of dialog. This time I tried to break away from those habits. I often forced myself in order to make my word count. Needless to say the hardest task about writing on such a short deadline was the climax scene and the ending. Those two areas I cannot promise won't read slightly flat in this first draft. Plus, I also worried about turning in a "polished" draft. Thank goodness for my cousin in LA who proofed my story only a few hours before it was due.

Needless to say, I liked the 500 words a day goal. With the added deadline it really pushed me to do my writing. It will also hopefully in the future help me get use to writing fast. I am going to try and keep that goal going. To assist me in that endeavor I have opted out of getting cable in my new apartment. Although I did sign up for Netflixs. I have to have something for those rainy unmotivated days. But I think this will be a good decision in the end. More writing will be done as well as more reading. Lastly, my first issue of the New Yorker came today. I probably would never seek out a subscription to this magazine on my own. The magazine actually mailed me a unbelievable deal for a two year subscription that was foolish to pass up. Thus, I now have my first literary magazine subscription. I am feeling very writerish (if that is a word). However, I've discovered its just as addicting as all the gossip magazines. I want another one. I can't decide however, if I should get another literary subscription or an industry subscription like Poets and Writers or Writer's Digest. Things to sleep on.