I just attended my third consecutive Write on the Sound writer’s conference in Edmonds, Washington. These gatherings always bombard me with new thoughts and ideas while stirring up my mind. The conference mental rush undoubtedly causes plenty of thought, the trick is to get some to flow out of the hand and onto the page. One of my chosen sessions started with three writing prompts (none of which did anything for me, so I wandered off on my own a little).
I often lay awake recalling how good it used to be.
The days back in time when with no effort, no thought, nothing – it just happened.
At the end of a day I could just turn on the radio, lay down and drift away… for hours.
Very different from my current life – I could stay asleep.
The question comes up, “Do writing conference’s help you become a better writer?”
For me sharing time with others interested in learning about writing, from other writers, charges a battery (that for many years I didn’t know that I had). So as long these gatherings stir something in me I’ll go, as for becoming a better writer – who knows?
This was my second time in the former car dealership showroom turned brewery conference room, sitting amongst some kegs of aging beer and learning more about writing.
From the various prompts, discussion, breaks to walk around Astoria and a strong beer – I ended up with this:
I usually walk with purpose (I have a dog) and out of necessity (my back chronically reminds me) – I do this daily. Often I simply wish to walk for no reason, to range about. Today my purpose was to unwind my mind and let my feet range.
When walking I typically try not to think – it is my escape. I am however easily distracted by people (not today) and architecture (Astoria has plenty worthy of noticing). While glancing at older buildings (more refreshened since my last visit) and ruins of pilings wobbling in the river, I noticed something new. Colorful bits of random display, knitted patches of several different people’s artwork twisted, wrapped and tied around posts, benches and a gate. Public displays of an orchestrated effort to grab attention and brighten the day for those who notice.
Why would someone in the position of Teacher or Advisor give an over-the-top harsh critique of a gifted writer – seeking to improve upon their obvious gift?
Is it believed that crushing someone (who is likely more talented than the critic) is somehow helpful, making them fight back and try harder?
Or is it just a display of jealousy.
This happened to an amazing writer that I proudly consider a friend.
She seems to be hurting from the opinion of one person who does not deserve the power to yield that affect on her.
I never sought to write (it could be argued that I don’t) nor expect it to go anywhere, so a critical attack on me or something that I’ve written might roll off my back with a grin and a middle finger – making me of little value in helping her.
How do you help a writer who has been damaged by hearing someone that they shouldn’t have?
I don’t even remember the first Time that I did it.
It was no big deal, not like forming some kind of habit.
Over Time I did it a little more often, I quietly killed some.
Sometimes it was fun, mostly just doing it out of occasional boredom.
Suddenly one day I was driven to obsession.
Murdering in mass and serial slaughtering consumed me.
Death now burned my eyes as they opened in the early hours.
Random methods to choke, smother and drown Time became routine.
Driving the need to kill Time and feed my aging Dragon.
It just happened, I never set out to write anything nor get this involved with it, but here I am. As if life cracked me open and the words just started coming out. I began writing daily for an hour or two, sometimes all day and even a few marathon weekends with little time for food or sleep, I did this for about a year.
I set my pen down the day that I learned people in the present run out of time for those who live in the past.
I went from keeping my binder with me at all times to leaving it on the coffee table.
Instead of writing daily, I maybe read it a little every other week and tweaked anything that I stumbled on. This went on for almost a year.
One day I decided to pick it back up and work through it. I made some “Draft Copies” and gave them to a few friends and family, noting that it was far from finished. I wanted to give it, to give Sarrah, some kind of life and protect the story from being lost.
Having never read Memoir I began attending writing conferences, seminars and classes a year ago. Learning to take my story apart, reworking it for Show not Tell is easier said than done, seems especially for me.
I understand that in the paper-thin chance this story of a Special Dog and an Old Boy ever becomes more than evolving pages in a weathered binder on my coffee table (and a bit on a blog) it will be run through normalizing software to Scrub out my Bad Habits, over-polish punctuation and trim off the rough edges… somehow making it no longer feel like it’s mine.
Perhaps what I’m writing is simply a record to be read aloud to an older version of me, staring out a window, trying to remember a life.