I’m not complaining. I’m never really at a loss for words. But this week, I wanted to return to the core ‘story’ of our blog and focus on the ‘writing’ as opposed to another one of those all-too-frequent posts about why I’m not writing. Or, to be more exact, not seriously engaged in re-writing, with our 5writers critique retreat now less than two months away.
Not that I don’t have plenty of material on that subject after a week punctuated by a long-awaited visit with my one year old grand-daughter:
and also by what I suspect is a newly broken rib.
(Mine, not my grand-daughters).
As my mother was oft fond of reminding me:
Pride Cometh Before the Fall
Truer words appear never to have been spoken. Good grief! Last week, I actually posted a picture of me winning the Tennis Club Championship.
How proud I was.
How hard I fell.
Poetically, on the tennis court of all places. How humbling that this week, thanks to said sport, I can hardly get out of bed.
But hold on, I promised that this week, I’d write about writing, or at least the writing life. So I started to cast about for a great writing topic and, with the above fall from grace in the forefront of my mind, started to think about the characters in our novels and where we, as writers, find our inspiration. How we frequently draw on our own triumphs and tragedies to create the conflict in our fictional characters’ lives.
Hmm… I thought. That’s pretty good. That would make a great post.
Then I read Helga’s brilliant post from Friday, A Grimm Tale and realized, once again, I’d been trumped. In spades. Kudos Helga, loved it!
Darn that Helga, she always thinks up such clever ways to torture her heroine. Or, perhaps in this case, have her heroine torture her?
Hmm… I thought, maybe I better think of something else. I mean there are lots of good topics out there, all I need to do is flip it around. I have this cool writing book, ‘Flip Dictionary,where author Barbara Ann Kipfer, in a huge reverse dictionary, offers cues and ‘clue’ words to lead writers to the exact phrase or specific term they need. So, thinking about Helga’s post from Friday on Protagonists, I thought maybe I should consider writing something about Antagonists. Just flip it up, so to speak.
Of course, then I read Silk’s post from Monday, My Villainous Day. Again, absolutely brilliant. Entertaining for not only our followers who are writers, but also for anyone who enjoys movies or plays or films. Fabulous post, Silk.
Yeah, really fab Silk. Thanks a bunch! Now what am I going to write about?
Next year I am absolutely, positively going to insist we ‘shake up’ the order that we post. Sure, sure, sure… I know it was my idea that we 5writers all have a set day of the week to post to the blog. It made sense at the time. That way we could all remember what day it was we were supposed to post. As in… If this is Tuesday, it must be Paula. But come on, that was before I realized I’d be following Silk every week.
For anyone, that would be a daunting task. Silk is Silk. But for me, Silk is the worst to follow.
Sorry Silk, but you know what I mean.
For some reason, even if we are thousands of miles apart, even if subjected to very different gravitational pulls, wind gusts, sun spots, tides or moon beams, Silk and I have the uncanny knack of stumbling upon the same idea, at the same time.
Hmm… It’s all coming back to me now. My mother used to say something else. Something like:
‘Twice burned, Thrice shy‘.
Okay. TIme to be “Thrice shy. I admit I’ve been pretty busy lately, maybe before I write anything this week, I better look back at the recent topics and posts and make sure I’m not repeating something already posted by one of my fellow 5writers.
Let’s take a peek…
A funny thing happened on the way to my post. Looking back over the 160 odd posts produced since this blog started in September, I realized something I already knew.
What a privilege!
How wonderful it is to be part of this fabulous, dynamic writing group.
The stereotype of the tortured, lonely, reclusive writer, locked in a dingy garret, is an all too familiar one. Even when the ‘garret’, or writing room, is not so dingy, writing can still be pretty lonely, the writer’s room frequently a solitary habitat, as demonstrated by a recent series in The Guardian on Writer’s Rooms. Notable recluses like J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee just reinforce this image.
But I’m not reclusive.
If you follow this blog you know, (as I’ve frequently reminded our readers), I’m the self-professed ‘Tigger’ of the group. But even so, my writing life would be unbearably lonely without my 5writers buddies. Not to mention infinitely less productive, infinitely less creative.
I like to think of it as ‘the power of five’.
Five individuals, each with our own marvellous ‘backstories’ and histories to bring to the group. Just look at Karalee’s recent post Adventures of a Writer. Is that really you up there Karalee, swinging from the mainstay? At least I think it is the mainstay. Or maybe it is the foremast?
But guess what?
If I don’t know enough about nautical terms, I can ask Karalee. Or Silk, who is no slouch of a sailor, either.
Again, that’s ‘the power of five’.
Not only does our writers’ group provide a sense of community, it is also a fabulous resource for pooling and sharing knowledge. We can’t of course write one another’s stories, (well, we could if we officially ‘collaborated’ as Helga and I did on a culinary novel we wrote some years ago). But even if not collaborating we can share: our enthusiasm, our troubles, our fears and hopes. We can also share our own unique knowledge base, life history, strengths and even our quirky personalities.
All can help make our stories better. All can help make our stories richer.
That’s the power of five.
In the past, we’ve provided advice to one another on a myriad of topics: from physiology to dragon boat racing (Karalee) small town life, marketing, and sheep shearing (thank you Silk) culinary arts, cold war Europe and jazz (thank you Helga) even gnomes, trolls, gryphons and guy-movies (oh come on Joe, you know it’s true).
But the power of five doesn’t stop with technical advice.
In every sense of the word, we’re here for one another. Some of this I may have shared before. If I’m repeating myself, I can count on one of my 5writers buddies to remind me – that’s the power of five, too..
But the point is that the longer we work together on this 5writers project, the more I am impressed by ‘the power of five’. If I’ve written myself into a corner, I know I can count on one of my 5writer colleagues for suggestions. Okay, maybe not before the big reveal at Whistler in June, but certainly afterward. I know if my novel has a ‘sagging middle’ my critique group will tell me about it. With the power of five, I can ask for solutions. Suggestions on how to tighten up my story’s flabby belly muscles.
That’s the power of five.
If you are reading this blog, and you’re not yet in a writers’ group, think about what you’re missing. Maybe your group won’t be exactly like ours. We think ours is pretty special, but if you join or create your own group, you and your writing buddies will all bring to it your fabulous, unique life experiences, your writing strengths, your wealth of knowledge, your technical expertise, your shoulders to cry on and laughter to share.
I guarantee the result will be more than mere multiplication, the result will be exponential.
That’s the power of five.