Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Bucks County Writer's Group Meeting


Yesterday marked the first Bucks County Writer’s Group meeting.  Two fellow NaNoWriMo participants and I met up in the café at Borders Bookstore in Langhorne, and with cookies and coffee in hand we dove into the critiques. 

Alex submitted the beginning of her Young Adult (YA) novel and I submitted a horror short story.  I was nominated to go first; Alex wasn’t ready to face the firing squad.  To avoid interruption and to keep the discussion moving, the author is “killed”.  My frazzled nerves and motherly protectiveness over my short story made it difficult to remain “dead” during the critique, so I shoved cookies in my mouth to stifle any attempt to defend or respond.

I took notes to refer to later and realized all the constructive criticism was spot on.  Their feedback mirrored all the questions I asked them to focus on while reading my piece.  I was convinced I would want to throw myself out a window after listening to my piece being ripped apart, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  I know the feedback will only strengthen my piece.  I wiped the sweat on my forehead and released my fists.  The impending doom of offering yourself up to other’s opinions is frightening, but only builds up to an anticlimactic reveal.      

Once we put Alex through the cookie devouring torture, we spent the second half of out meeting writing.  My unfinished mystery novel has been following me around ever since the end of NaNoWriMo.  I couldn’t finish it.  So, I decided to work on it yesterday.  As an aside, I can’t say enough about the encouragement I get from working with other writers around me.  Although we work independently, their presence keeps me from fooling around online and cruising the soul-sucking Facebook. 

The sun was setting, and one by one Alex and Greg left to attend to their families.  I found it hard to break my writing flow, but I was hungry.  I packed my things up energized by an amazing high of writing accomplishment and drove home.  After I grabbed dinner, I continued to work on my novel.  My eyes kept fluttering from the exhaustion of writing and creating, but I pushed through.  The next thing I knew I reached the end of my story.  I finished the first draft of my novel.  I couldn’t believe I did it.       

I printed it out today, slipped it into a paper-sized envelope and placed it into my filing cabinet.  The excitement to see it printed out is unparalleled, and in a few weeks the enormous job of revision shall commence.  A weight has lifted from my shoulders replaced by a permanent smile.  I’m riding the wave of this writing high, and I can’t wait to tackle my short story.  The Bucks County Writer’s Group had a successful first meeting.  Go Team!    

Are you gripped with fear when your work is critiqued?  What do you do to get you through the process?

3 comments:

anvil said...

HOLY CRAP! GO LAURA
So proud of you!!!!
Can't wait to get my eyeballs on it (you ARE going to bring it sometime soon, right?)

I felt pretty much the same way about the group - surprised how insightful the feedback was (so many things I just didn't *see*) and how encouraging. I'm also surprised by how energizing it is to get that kind of support - you aren't in a vacuum, you aren't by yourself. For me too, it created a sort of tsunami of being even more excited to write. BUT I didn't finish my book, I watched the Golden Globes instead. YOU ARE A CHAMP!
alex

Laura Campbell said...

Thanks, Alex! I'm sure if I remembered the Golden Globes were on I would have watched them. Yes, I will be bringing it to the group, just not yet. I want to polish up my short story first.

Onebyland said...

Beginning on Saturday, April 13 and each Saturday during this month, volunteers will read excerpts from diaries, letters, and journals written by men and women who made their way to freedom during the period of slavery in America primarily from the Charles L. Blockson book, The Underground Railroad. The readings will take place at the Doylestown Historical Society at 56 South Main Street beginning at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There is no charge to attend the readings which are taking place in advance of the May 2 screening of The North Star hosted by the Society to be shown at the County Theater.

The North Star was written and directed by Doylestown resident and 1989 Central Bucks West graduate Thomas Phillips. Filmed last summer at fifteen locations in Bucks County, many area residents served as cast or crew in the production. The film is based on the true story of Big Ben Jones, who ran away from slavery settled in Doylestown for 11 years before his recapture and return to Virginia. Jeremiah Trotter, former Linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles who now lives in neighboring New Jersey was cast in the role of Big Ben Jones. In a July 2012 interview with The Fanatic Radio 97.5, Trotter expressed how “excited” he was to work on the film.

During Black History Month the Doylestown Historical Society held lectures about the Underground Railroad. Visitors who attended the Saturday lectures became some of the first group of people fortunate enough to secure a ticket to the May 2 screening. The requests for tickets was so overwhelming that both screens at the theater will stagger a showing the movie on the same evening—at 7:30 and 8:00. Tickets are sold out.

President of the Doylestown Historical Society Stu Abramson adds, “We already have a few readers for April but hope to have many others volunteer with us at these Saturday programs. Some of these writings are very powerful.” Individuals interested in participating in the readings should call the Doylestown Historical Society at 215.345.9430.

For more information about the Doylestown Historical Society visit www.doyolestownhistorical.org .

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