When Last We Met…

On Sunday, July 25, 2010, the Magic City Writers met and reviewed the beginning of Lindy’s novel, The Night Things.    

The meeting was small; just Kathryn, Lindy, and Myself.  Nicole was unable to attend, as was our hoped for new member Emily.   

Before describing what happened, let’s talk about  the food.

Let’s Torture Alex by Mentioning What We Ate

As snacks we served three types of cookies: peanut butter, chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin.   In a word, yum.

For dinner Kathryn made a very good Cobb Salad, using the official recipe from the The Hollywood Brown Derby, home of the original Cobb Salad.  She even hand made the salad dressing that is supposed to be used on it.  It required a bit of tweaking (chicory was impossible to find, and blue cheese was substituted for Roquefort ) but the result was delicious.  Great job, Kathryn.

Just for the records, the salad consists of water crest and romaine lettuce, tomato, bacon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, avocado, blue cheese, chopped chives, and tuna.  

The dressing’s ingredients do not live up to their combined taste, so I shall not bother listing them.

Later we were suppose to have either watermelon or ice cream for desert.  I regret to say that we were so sated from dinner we forgot to have desert.

Oh woe is me.   Now we shall have to eat these items later in the week. 

An Now What We Did

Lindy knew that her submission was a rough, first draft.  She asked we only give her general comments.   i.e. Focus on structure and plot problems, not so much on details or grammar.

I think my idea of general comments was a lot closer to her concept of line-by-line edits.   For that, I apologize to her.

The consensus was that The Night Things contains many strong elements, and that Lindy needs to flesh out or rewrite certain portions.   Some parts were quite good, and other parts needed more work. 

After reducing Lindy to a shadow of her former self, we did writing exercises based on an idea of Kathryn’s.  Her idea was to practice our ability to describe items based only on how they feel. 

One at at time, we each put odd shaped objects into a box and closed the lid so the others could not see what it was.  We each reach into the box and felt the items, never looking at them.  Afterwards we wrote a few sentences describing what we felt.   

This was a great idea.  It required flexing unusual writing muscles and focusing on subtle details.  This was a very useful exercise for me, and I think for the others as well.  Another great job, Kathryn.

The Remains of The Day

After dinner, we retired upstairs and watched a Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff on a movie called Jack Frost.  This movie hammered and glued a number of Russian folklore stories together into one of the dumbest movies in history.  Basically it was a deranged mixture of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty with liberal doses of the Baba Yaga myths.   Needless to say, at times we laughed till we cried.

Afterwards I retired to write this post, while the others went their separate ways..

Coming Attractions

We set the date for the next meeting to be Wednesday August 11 at 6:00 pm.  This time, we shall eat dinner first, then rip to shreds my fifth chapter, Through Persuasion and Force,….   

I am especially looking forward this, because I just finished a complete (and much needed) rewrite of this chapter.  At the moment I am feeling quite proud of myself and need to be taken down a notch.   I feel certain the others shall oblige me.

Until my next post, take care and have fun.

When Last We Met…

Yesterday, Sunday September 27, The Magic City Writers met to review the first chapter of Lindy’s new story, The Night Things.  We also gained a new member, Kyle Strickland, and for the first time ever Nicole missed a meeting.  (She felt under the weather and stayed home instead.)  I shall get into the details of the meeting itself right after our on going segment I like to call “Lets Torture Alex by Mentioning What We Ate”.  Granted, this is a long title, but it’s just so darn descriptive (and evil) I can’t resist it.

Kathryn made ‘pork chalupas by putting uncooked pinto beans, a pork loin roast, chili powder, onions, stewed tomatoes, and cumin in a crock pot for 8 hours.  The pork was then pulled apart, and the pork and beans were served over a bed of bite-size Tostitos chips and topped with chopped tomatoes, sour cream, sliced avocados, cheese, and salsa.  As a snack she made pumpkin bread using a civil war recipe.  It was especially good when sprinkled with cinnamon.  I followed this up with a chaser of Neurontin, Flexeril, and a heating pad, but I digress.

Now back to the meeting. 

Literally, just seconds ago, it dawned upon me that I forgot to record the meeting.  Lindy, I am sorry.  I shall blame the Neurontin for making me a scatterbrain. 

Lindy’s new story starts off with an extremely well-written first draft of her first chapter.  In fact the group consensus was that she should break what she showed us into two good chapters.  It was not perfect, but I have seen published works that were worse than what she wrote.  Speaking for myself, I thought she had good descriptions, well-defined characters (though some need to get their meds balanced), an intriguing plot, and a foreboding style that created a wonderfully creepy atmosphere at times.   If she wrote an entire book at this level of quality I feel confident she could find a publisher willing to help her edit the rough parts.  Congratulations Lindy, you deserve it.

Lindy also introduced us to her friend, Kyle Strickland, who decided to join our group.  Kyle is a freelance writer who has had several short stories published and also writes for the site http://www.neverborncomic.com/.  Kyle’s view of the writing industry was quite different than the one we got from authors Bill Drinkard and Jeremy Lewis.  I think we all learned a lot talking with him.  With luck, we will even be able to entice him into positing some of his manifestos on this site.  Welcome to the group Kyle.

Kyle also has the dubious distinction of being the tenth person on our mailing list.  This is the limit for BlogSpot, unless I can find a way around it.  This means that those of you receiving these posts must now take it upon yourself to forward them to everyone you know.  I’m sure I can count on each of you to either do your part or ignore this not-so-subtle suggestion.

After the meeting, Lindy and Kathryn retired to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I read an insightful e-mail upon…uh, I mean…on my own writing from a dear friend and former professor, Ada Long.   (Yes, there is a private joke in the middle of that sentence.  If you didn’t get it, it wasn’t aimed at you.  Which, I  suppose, is the whole meaning of the word private in the previous sentence.  Oh…dear…god.  I’ve started analyzing my post on analyzing writing while I’m writing it.  If I don’t move on, this whole post could get sucked into a metaphysical black hole formed by the weight of its own cyber-drivel. )

Ada and I recently exchanged writings in an informal way and she send me a very nice letter that contained both high praise and thoughtful criticism.  Ada admits to having no interest in fantasy, but nevertheless said she thought my first two chapters were, “terrific”.  Ada’s positive influence on my life has been considerable, and her knowledge of literature is quite deep.  Therefore, I think you can understand why I am feeling a little proud myself at the moment. 

With regards to her criticisms, some I immediately addressed, while others I must consider more carefully.   Especially since they touch upon…uh, I mean…on my long running war with grammar. I do not wish to elaborate in an already overlong post, so perhaps I shall ruminate about her advice later.

That covers it for this meeting.  It was a good day, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.  Y’all take care and have fun.