This morning's lecture on Endings was like a college class. In fact, it was. Almost two hours on endings. More than I can take in, blog about, or probably ever need to know.
On to the afternoon workshop. (after a long mid-day break when the Inauguration was shown in the auditorium on a large screen)
Ann started the session sharing the way she gets tension into her writing. Excellent tips, too long to enumerate here, that looked like a football playbook when she sketched her plan on the whiteboard. That one moment may have been worth the price of the week's conference. I now have a revision trick, one that works in fiction and non-fiction, to heighten the emotional content of my writing.
Then we analyzed another New Yorker essay (we'd read Granny's Bridge by Tony Earley on day 1). This one was "Family History: Alone at the Movies." Ann pointed out that even in such a short piece, the Mother's slight dialog makes her come alive. The ending tells us so much. Reading these essays and getting Ann's take on them -- that no matter what you are writing, you need to include when, where, why, dialog, character development and the all-important SO WHAT-- pretty much made my day. That and her description of revising for emotional tension.
I could have left happy right then.
But we analyzed two more manuscripts, each for a full hour. Those writers went away with total satisfaction and a plan. That's what they said.
Tomorrow we have a Day of Rest. Nothing planned. Time to read.
At the beginning of the conference Dennis Lehane gave us this admonition:
Take full advantage of the week. Remember, when you want to talk about gerunds and onomatopoeia in the regular world-- "mutant issues"-- nobody gives a shit. In your regular life, non mutants don't care. You can't convert them. So while you are here, get into completely meaningless debates and revel in this time.
So far, I haven't had those discussions with my fellow writers at the Workshop. Then again, maybe I live in a mutant world. I do know a lot of people who love reading and writing, and even gerunds.