Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating 100 prompts written

Last night at Second Thursday Writers, I wrote the 100th prompt in the series I had committed to. I had started it in early May hoping to come up with some good story starts for the next novel, and I did. As I've said in this blog, I've also used the prompt writings to write and learn more about the characters in the new novel, although much of that may never show up in the manuscript. I like having these writing challenges; it helps me keep at my craft and keep creating, and the prompts are really helpful for continuing to hone my skills as a story-teller.

Here's one of my favorites from the 100:

Purple Tulips

When Jake introduce me to the young woman he'd brought to the funeral, I'd have sworn he said her name was Purple Tulips. That wasn't it, of course, but it was Czech or Serbian and had four sylllables and started with P and wasn't something I could pronounce. She said everyone called her Pat but that didn't fit her at all,  so I thought of her all afternoon as Purple Tulips.

Jake was clearly smitten with her and I was a wee bit jealous. Jake and I had been lovers for nearly a year, and we'd had a lovely time until the lust waned. I'd have been happy to see our passion morph into a steadier flame, but Jake got restless and met Anna and I found Paul and he and I married and had four happy years until the cancer won.

Purple Tulips was 10 or more years younger than Jake, which probably suited him. He was a man who loved going more than doing, and I was a sitter, a lounger, a reader. I hoped Purple Tulips liked to hike and travel.

She stood by herself a lot that afternoon, and I wondered if I should go over and speak with her and make her feel welcome, but it didn't seem my place. My old self would have done it, but the widow I was now had a rebel streak that hadn't been available to me before and so I turned away and was done with them both.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

good news, more good news, and work to do

My experience at Willamette Writers Conference last weekend was a good one. I've learned to do only one or two workshops a day. That's all the new information I can absorb. I attended two good workshops by Eric Witchey, including a very thought-provoking one on Myth in Story that will linger in my thinking.

I also had three interviews with agents where I was able to pitch my novel. All of the interviews went well. All three agents were intrigued enough by what I told them of the story that they asked me to send pages (10, 50, and the whole thing, respectively). I felt very relaxed in the pitches for two reasons. I know now more than ever that finding an agent or publisher is a crap shoot and I so expected nothing except a chance to practice and I practiced like crazy with every friend I met, every stranger I talked to. I even went to the free pitch practice area and gave it to someone there. So I felt pretty comfortable.

Then on Sunday, when I got home, my friend Ed Goldberg called. He'd finished his read and edit of the manuscript and had comments for me. Some were reassuring (good characters, good dialog, very well written) and some gave me work to do. He suggested some additional scenes and character complications, advised me to beef up the ending, and do some needed police research. While it's hard to give up my idea that the book was done, his suggestions make good sense and won't take more than a couple of weeks to complete.

Interestingly, the lunch speaker, a film writer, talked about the three things needed for a successful career: practice, an open mind to criticism and suggestion, and persistence. So I'm taking those on.