Saturday, November 23, 2013


Because folks have indicated that they'd most likely NOT attend the upcoming week's NaNoWriMo sessions, we are going to go ahead and cancel the Monday, 11/25, and Friday, 11/29, sessions.  

We hope some of you will join us, though, for tomorrow's (Sunday, 11/24) Open Mike at the Thayer Library at 717 Main Street in Lancaster.  Anyone can come read a selection of his/her own work that is under 5 minutes.  Simply sign in at 2 pm when you arrive.  Folks are also welcome to simply come and listen without reading. We hope to see you then!

Have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!
Seven Bridge Writers' Collaborative

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Get On With It

Inspiration is a sly devil. It visits at awkward times—in bed, while driving, in the middle of a business meeting—making it most elusive and often too fleeting to record. Complicating the matter further, motivation can be equally difficult to manage. A writing life, in many ways, is so linked to inspiration and motivation that it is easy to let the magic moment pass you by, leaving it for a more convenient time… which may not come.
As a writer and editor who spends many hours on deadline, I can’t afford to let either of those sneaky sprites drop the goods when I’m not prepared to make use of them. If you are serious about writing, neither can you.
Experience is a hard teacher, so spare yourself the angst and try a few simple methods for making the most of inspiration, and motivation, in your life.
Let’s consider visitor no. 1—inspiration—first.

Keep a notebook by your side.
It’s up to you whether you use a mini-recorder, an index card, a pocket notebook or a tablet. Just keep the darn thing handy, because inspiration comes in quick spurts, perhaps seconds, while you’re otherwise occupied. Jot it down now, no matter what you are doing, because ideas disappear as fast as they appear. Few of us have the wherewithal to drop everything and sit down to write up an idea and actually letting it gel awhile isn’t a bad idea—just so long as you record the main idea for later.

Be curious.
Inventors ask “what if …” and so should writers. Many writers learn to question the obvious, which may be why journalists can write whiz-bang mysteries and novels. They learn to examine what’s up front for other connotations, hidden motivations, unexpected outcomes. They don’t believe everything they see. Then they let their imaginations go to town.
Emulating that kind of questioning, even skeptical, approach to life may suggest stories that are not only fun to write but important to write. Your role as a writer is not only to record history, but to interpret it, not only to imagine what can be, but to draw it out for others. That’s the only way to enter new territory when you write.

Do your research.
I don’t believe it’s ever appropriate to sit down and make the whole business up. Why? Because readers expect fiction to be believable—not as specific as history or nonfiction, but genuine. Do your homework and spare yourself embarrassment later on. If you call an alien six-legged and two-headed that won’t matter, but if you say his ship landed in Central Park, you’d better know the territory well enough to describe it accurately. Inspiration is equal parts “idea” and “homework.”

Lastly, make time for inspiration.
If you’re coming home tight-lipped and worn out from work, or the family has been whining at you for hours about some must-do project, you’re not going to be able to sit down and “let it all hang out.” Nope. First, you have to unwind, somehow, and then find a space where no one and nuthin’ can bother you. That may mean exercise, dinner, kid time—and writing ‘til after midnight. Or it may mean a trip to the library (or wherever you best escape reality) while someone else fends for themselves (or a spouse takes care of the bloody minions). When I worked in an office, I got some of my best work done at 2 in the morning, while others slept. But I had the benefit of a late work shift then, with the chance to sleep a bit later in the morning; toddlers would complicate that. I’m not saying it’s easy to find time. It just has to be given equal priority with all of the other crying needs in your life. So figure out what it will take to give yourself the time you need, and forge ahead.
Motivation matters just as much.
Without dedication to writing, and respect for yourself and your time, the frustrated urge to write devours an otherwise happy soul. If you are to write, you must do it. There can be no notion of “later” in life. Motivation is like a muscle that must be used; it grows flaccid when ignored.

Live with it.
You can’t let everything else overwhelm your need to write. Some of the best writers I know are busy all the time with these things: writing, recreating (it’s called re-creating for a reason), a social life, volunteer time with related and unrelated projects, travel to visit book groups or bookstores, and family. They fall under the proverbial flag of “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I’m not trying to say you can be all things at all times and still be a writer. I am saying, however, that making writing a part of your everyday life tends to make it fit with everything you do. You may find yourself writing a plot in your head while you commute or cook, composing a lyric at the gym, even doing some of your best writing not for yourself, but for a client. It all becomes one in your life, if you let it.

Face your fear.
Sometimes you have to force motivation until it becomes as much a good habit as exercise. That’s how life works. Write yourself messages if you must, but remember to dedicate yourself to what you value. If you can’t take this step, then perhaps you’re avoiding something—like a failed resolve, or a writing project that isn’t really going in the right direction. Not doing something is as strong a message as any other about who and what you are. Realize that you are hesitating for a reason, work it out, and then get on with it. Otherwise? Well, otherwise, you’ll never get there.
Don’t allow either one of those spirits to live apart from you. Inspiration and motivation belong in a writer’s life every day. It’s just that sometimes you have to pin them down!

Ann Connery Frantz 

Friday, November 15, 2013


Please be aware that the craft workshop, Look Who's Talking: Narrative Point of View, scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, November 20, has been POSTPONED.  We will post a new date for this workshop as soon as possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience, and hope to see you when reconvene for this event.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Look Who's Talking...

I put on my red, fur-lined cloak, slip out of the house, and head for the woods.

You walked through the trees in your long mantel. You were the color of blood.

Little Red Riding Hood made her way through the tall trees, darkness and dread barring her way.

Who’s telling the story? To whom are they telling it? In what form? There are no questions more fundamental for the fiction writer, and none that have greater repercussions for story. 
The perspective from which a story is told, or the narrative point of view affects writer, characters, and reader alike. Please join us this Saturday for a two hour workshop on the choices the writer must make about the controlling perspective of the story, and ways these choices affect the narrative as a whole.

When:  Saturday, November 19th, 10 am - 12 pm
Where:  Thayer Memorial Library
Facilitator:  Hollis Shore

“Don’t Look Back . . ..”

This is National Novel Writing Month.  The goal for well over a third of a million writers, worldwide, is to write 50,000 words of at least basically comprehensible narrative by the end of the month.  Most of us do better than that and have pretty good prose; many of us actually meet the finish line on November 30, which we all know is right after Thanksgiving.

That’s only three weeks from now.  Three weeks and, 33,600 words from last Thursday, meaning that we should be 17,000 words into this project.  I am not.  I am not even close.  But I haven’t given up.  And neither should you.

The best advice I have—and for any writer who is working hard to simply “get stuff out,” is to follow one of Satchel Paige’s “Six Maxims for Life”:  “Don’t look back—something could be gaining on you.”

I am a sentence writer.  I take time.  I revise as I write; I go back and adjust and adjust again.  This is sometimes painful. Like Flaubert, who reported on a day’s work as “spending the morning putting in a comma and the afternoon removing it,” I sometimes find writing torturous.  I have many friends, too, who take time, who think, who consider one sentence or phrase at a time.  “I like giving the ideas time to percolate and develop, going away from things and coming back,” worried one friend who just joined the NaNoWriMo ranks. 

My response:  “Settle in for the ride.  This will very frustrating . . . for a while.  It's a good exercise, though, and you'll find your mind and your writing wandering. The trick is to leave it alone. You'll take silly risks; you'll have loopy sentences; you'll write bizarrely un-supportable ideas into the heads of your characters.

You'll also find bits and pieces of genius—in December.

The NaNoWriMo project will cure you of being too careful—it's a great exercise in constantly moving ahead.  When you are stalled, here are some suggestions:

Write description: Cover every detail of a place—a room, a landscape, a cityscape.  A puddle, the side of a house, a napping cat.  Describe, describe.  Describe a character: tell your reader what he eats, drinks, wears.  Tell your reader what kind of toilet tissue he uses, where he buys his ties; show your reader how a character sleeps—side or back, or snoring or drooling, and how much of either—where she buys her canned foods, what she pays for her vanilla, and does she buy real vanilla or vanilla flavoring?  Write down everything.

Create dialogue:  Hear what Mr. Toilet Tissue is saying to the vanilla-flavoring woman in the car on their way back to the house. Continue the dialogue.  Let them argue.  Take time for them to be silent, and write about what sounds are left in the car.

But don’t look back: Don’t review more than your last sentence, and don’t dwell on that; don’t check what you wrote yesterday or the day before; don’t revise—not yet.  Check your spelling, yes; check your grammar, if you have to, but don’t dwell on that, either—at least, not now.  Keep moving, or something will be gaining on you.  Even if you know you had Ms. Vanilla Flavoring wearing two different dresses in the same store, leave the *%*#@ dresses alone.  Leave them alone, or they will grow legs and gain on you.

Go back in December.  Better, yet, return to your work in the spring.

And with Thanksgiving certain to derail you, here are two more of Satchel Paige’s maxims that are as necessary for writers as they are for baseball players and everyone else: “Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood” and "If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”

Lie down, if you have to—then get up, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and keep writing . . . 

Winona Wendth

Saturday, November 2, 2013

National Novel Writing Month or Are You Out of Your Mind??

Dust off those pages, pull up a chair, November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The goal is a 50,000 word manuscript by November 30th. That’s a mere 1666 words per day for thirty days. Trollope wrote 3000 words per day. George Simon could write TWO Inspector Maigret mysteries in a month. But for most of us one-page, 300-words-per-day mortals, the idea of writing 5 plus pages every day for a month is daunting, to say the very least. To help you along, Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative and Thayer Memorial Library are hosting hours on Mondays and Fridays for the month of November, when intrepid writers can gather at the library to work alone together, feeding off each other’s creative energy and their determination to meet this worthy, if not slightly masochistic, goal.  

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 the brainstorm of a few San Francisco Bay area writers, who, in their words, wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists. For more information on the storied (sorry) history of this remarkable idea, check out their web site, where you will also find links to a multitude of support, including writer’s forums and tools for tracking your progress.  Information on scheduling of local events can be found here.

Come Write In at the Thayer Memorial Library on Mondays, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, and Fridays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. 

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Ernest Hemingway

Hollis Shore