Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Southern Indiana Writers' Salon

Seven years ago this month, a fellow writer and I sent out the media releases announcing that we were beginning a writers' group. Then we waited to see if anyone would come. They did! This past Thursday afternoon, we met to celebrate the group's success.

Most of those who gathered for that first meeting have gone in other directions--moving away, taking jobs, or dealing with family or health issues, but new ones have come to take their places.

Various genres are represented among the membership. Some of us write in more than one genre. This week, in fact, we discussed how we learn from one another. Poets benefit from the experience of published fiction writers, who learn about useful poetic devices from the bards, who are encouraged to pursue their craft by the essayists and the children's writers, who learn techniques regarding the development of writers' sites and blogs from the creative non-fiction writers, who . . .and the cycle continues.

I strongly recommend that writers find a group that is a good fit and participate in it. By its very nature, writing is done in isolation, for the most part. We need to carve out those few hours each month to meet with one another.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Old-Timey House

In an earlier post, I wrote about my search for Elsie Blue, the blue-tick coon hound in my manuscript Up the Rutted Road (working title). As I sought a dog I could describe, I also needed to find a picture of Uncle Glen's weathered, old-timey house. The house pictured above was the home of master storyteller Ray Hicks, who has "passed on over." It was hiding in plain sight, because I have the picture among my collected research about Appalachian oral tradition.

Each October, Ray, a tall string bean of a man, would come down off Beech Mountain--along with his family and a load of sassafras root to sell--to hold court at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He was an icon of that event. Wherever he stopped to roost, a crowd would gather to hear him tell a Jack Tale in his unique, mesmerizing mountain drawl. He took his time with each word, rolling it around in his mouth, breaking it into as many syllables as possible.

It saddens me that I never got to hear him in person, though I do have a VHS tape of him which I procured at AppalShop in Whitesburg, Kentucky, during a research trip. I hope he won't mind if I borrow his house for my book. I promise not to do it harm. I love it too much.

Giant Steps on the Journey

Within the past couple of weeks, I have taken what I consider to be some giant steps toward expanding my career as a writer. Friend and fellow writer Ramona K. Cecil began encouraging me to join American Christian Fiction Writers a couple years ago, and finally I acted on her suggestion.

When I commit to something, I jump in with both feet, so I also joined a couple of ACFW's listserves. Further, I am the fourth in a quartet of critiquing writers. What an opportunity to grow, first, as I write, knowing that my work will be carefully scrutinized before an agent or editor has opportunity to do that, and second, as a critiquer, which is a skill unto itself. I look forward to our growing into a cohesive unit.