This was how we ended our creative writing workshop this week.
My creative writing group surprised me with champagne and birthday cake last week. Thank you Judy Ward for baking the delicious coffee-chocolate and Orange cakes and thank you Isabel and fellow writers for the champagne and all the snacks. We also celebrated the end of another great term of work-shopping our stories. The eight-week long workshop ended on Tuesday. Many writers in the group have been attending this workshop at Kenmore, Queensland (Australia) for as long as five years. I have been part of the group for two years. Author Isabel D’Avila Winter is a beautifully crazy and an inspiring teacher. Below was the note I got in email before we had our last workshop.
“No reading for next week, because we’ll be too busy eating the leftover TimTams and madly workshopping our work. We’ll also be discussing the upcoming local writing competition, and brainstorming what kind of stories might be suitable to enter,” Isabel D’ Avila Winter.
Isabel is seated in front (left). Other participants included writers of memoir, rural romance, fantasy, sci-fi and crime fiction. We are not all females, we do have two male writers. Tom was not well this night and the other male writer, Bill, took this lovely picture. The group members have planned to enter the local writing competition in August.
I find that being part of this group was a major contributing factor in my story-telling; both in finding constant inspiration to write and sharing my work for an honest feedback. I also enjoy listening to each writer’s story.
I attended a talk at our local library last Saturday in Kenmore, near Brisbane City, Australia. I was with six others from our Creative Writing group. We had all been reading and writing fiercely, and were excited about learning to E-Publish.
As it turned out, the Kenmore Library talk, given by the Queensland Writers Centre was valuable and inspired all of us. Although we were all ‘pumped’ by the talk, some members were not too comfortable with self-promotion and general socialising on the internet and E-publishing. Some of course (all total of three of us) raced home and signed up with Wattpad to begin writing our stories.
I was working through my drafts and trying to choose what I would like to write or publish on Wattpad. I also looked up general information on Wattpad and read other stories written by various writers. It is too early for me to know whether this step would assist me with my plans to publish some of my work but I will share more later.
Amongst all the information I read and saw, I came across this short video – which made me laugh. This video is not only about what a writer does in Wattpad. This is what we all do in Wattpad or WordPress or even other social networks – we are eager to get some response, feedback or praise when general advice is ‘write for yourself’, or ‘don’t expect’ anything or ‘believe in what you are doing’….. after all, writers are human.
That was the question of our discussion in creative writing workshop tonight. My friend Bill Heather is an architect. He is also a writer in my creative writing workshop group. The group is tutored by Isabel D’Avila Winter, a published author. Pamela Jeffs, another writer-friend suggested that I should blog this discussion and my own response, to help writers who are planning to write autobiographies and memoirs or fiction based on real life stories. I begin with Bill’s email to me and others in our group.
Bill Heather: Hello all you aspiring and proven writers,
Is there a limit to what you can mine from your own life experiences for a story?
Are authors of autobiographical fiction or memoir at risk of alienating their family and friends in their search for that elusive storyline?
Is ruthlessness in search of your best fiction a necessary attribute of a writer?
Would you publish a story if it could destroy the marriage of your closest friend?
There are good questions to ponder as we head towards the end of another year, and ones which are addressed in the attached article from the November 2014 issue of the Monthly. Link at the end of my response to Bill.
My Response to Bill: Dear Bill and friends,
Thank you Bill. I found the article very interesting and very true. The most safe writing would be fiction.
The pen does ‘cut’ deeper than the sword.
In my Memoir writing, I question everything I write. I know there will be a lot of ‘hurt’ of others as well as my own. I have created pain in many stories I read in our evening workshop. For example, if I had told my mother the old uncle rubbed my sore leg the ‘wrong way’ I think there would have been some serious charges or bloodshed in my family. The man is dead now but if I spoke about it now – what could happen? I don’t know. I also spoke to my mother and step brother about some stories I have written so far, and we discussed them. These stories were all painful…my stepbrother is my late step father’s son. But my step brother is my best friend – we are very close.
So my point is, as often as I do, I ask, should I just change my memoir to fiction and pretend it is not me or get my ‘freedom to express’ in fiction? Perhaps some stories could be written differently, safely..? Those and others are questions I ask myself all the time. 75% of what I have written, I don’t bring it to our workshop, I am scared to. Sometimes, I write the whole thing and then delete it.
Every now and then, I write fiction for the class exercises, because, this gives me the freedom to write freely without guilt, pain, horror and more. I totally lose myself in the ‘fake’ when I write fiction.
I deal with my writing the truth ‘problem’ this way; I write about me, the events, people and places and things that affect me. I write it all, then I decide what I can manage to live with, and I keep that story. I tell myself, ‘stop thinking about everyone else’. I just write ‘my’ story. I can always pull out what I think is too much at the end of the day. The final choice is mine, and I have to live with it.