We weren’t invited, but here we are again. I watched as you gathered for your first retreat as a group and noticed – hey we are all together in our age areas. This is great and maye we can add a point or two.
We like the idea of spontaneous visits to a country when you do your writing and critiquing. Sure everyone wants to write, but don’t you want to hear the stories too? Maybe you should add – WRITING AND CRITIQE RETREATS. OOPS, here we go opening our mouths. SHH.
The evening begins and the hostess has set up a Paris writing place. Music fills the air, the wine is cool, the coffee aromas penetrate the small room, and the table is a small iron circle with small chairs. You feel like you are in a sidewalk cafe in Paris. Your hostess has pictures of her trip to France all over her small room and gives a snippet of information about each one.
Then down to work writing and getting the next few pages written or revised. We stand outside and listen. Nothing but the sound of fingers on laptops and no talking. There is something missing – conversation. An evening of writing with your friends satisfies the soul, but what about the quality of writing. We knock and ask if we could observe this Paris scene.
Observe doesn’t happen; instead we begin asking if anyone would read their written words.Startled, the writing stops. “Why?” one lady asked. “We are here to write.”
“But, wouldn’t it be nice if you could hear comments and get new ideas? Sometimes, we need to see our writing and our story from another person’s view point. If you get stuck on a scene, a character’s attitude, or another character wants to take over, wouldn’t this be the best place to hatch out a new angle?
“When you read out loud, you might hear your story in a different tone and is there any conflict there? Or, are there too many conflicts? Do you know where you are going with your story? Is the plot clear and did you start at just the right place?”
We get stares. “We’re sorry for the intrusion,” and stand up to leave.
“Wait,” the hostess hollers at us. “We never thought about all of these questions when we worked together. We are not a group of ‘young chicks,’ and maybe you could help. Would you stay for a while?”
Of course, my friend and I could not resist. Two hours later, a lot of discussion went around the small room: writing, exercises for characters, subplots, and names of characters. “When your ages creeps upward, viewpoints of life change, and yes, we all know a lot more about life than the younger ladies. This is what makes your coming of age novels different than your characters who have faced life, death, loneliness, and still want the passion, tender moments, and love.”
“Just remember, you are here to help each other make their writing the best it can be. Always be polite and critique the writing, not the writer.”
As the hour got later, the women moaned about the workload facing them tomorrow.
“No, what you had this evening was a blessing. Tomorrow is an opportunity to encounter what your character may face. Do this as a challenge and let your writing show your fortitude. Hey, we all can’t fit the same mold, thank heavens.”
“Uhh,” one lady responded. “Would you be able to join us next time at my home?”
The other ladies responded, “please?” One lady in particular extended her hands toward both of us. “I noticed my writing was for the younger generation, and it’s been quite a while since I looked back. I think my rewrite will be in a era all of us know, and this is exciting.”
Since, it is not polite to refuse, my friend and I agreed, keeping the excitement hidden under our coats as we left. “Next time.” Our mission instead of being accomplished, was just beginning. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” and realized we’d said the same thing at the same time. Hey, what are friends for, if not for a friend.