Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 3, Inauguration Day in Paradise

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.


Lee said...

You know, you can talk about gerunds and onomatopoeia with me anytime. Love this review, but of course I want more.

Anne said...

What a wonderful week you are having -- wish I could have made it there, too. Maybe next year. Thanks for sharing your adventures in writing with us in your blog.