Our Nov. 5 Writers’ Group meeting boasted ten attendees, including six readers. Our wise advisors consisted of John, Chuck, Angela, and Ken, and our readers were Lynda, Melina, Connor, Mario, Daniel, and Tina. Lynda started us off with an intriguing portion of one of her novels. Very apropos for Halloween, the story included a ghost that makes an unexpected appearance in a photograph. Lynda’s writing was excellent, and we all want to hear how the story unfolds. Mario had the clever idea that the suspense could even be drawn out by having more time pass between the ghost’s initial appearance in the photo and its appearance in Annie’s living room.
Tina then read another excerpt of one of her family stories. This one described aunts, uncles, and cousins arriving for a birthday party in 1955. John and others provided astute comments regarding keeping the point of view consistent, and we had an interesting conversation about whether readers nowadays would understand what is meant by a “raspy, cigarette-tinged” voice.
Melina was next, reading for the first time. She read a touching short story about a girl, Amy, who is blind. The story described how Amy experiences the world, Amy’s immense grief at losing her beloved dog Cinnamon, and finally how she heals by making a new friend at school. The story was very well constructed, with a clear rising action, a climax when Amy is at her lowest, saddest point, and then the resolution when Jess becomes her friend. After this beautiful exemplar, we certainly hope to hear more of Melina’s writings. Melina’s dad, John, ceded his reading time to his daughter so that she could read her entire story. He also showed off his splendid dad-skills by reading the first paragraph of Melina’s story to calm any butterflies.
Connor read us the next installment in his story about the Sasquatches. In this portion, Marduk the Sasquatch and his best friend Wind-Strider initially argue about an inopportune bird dropping, and Wind-Strider later provides an update about Marduk’s sister. One of the key strengths of this work was the authenticity of the dialogue and the clear voice in which it was written; readers get a vivid picture of the two young male Sasquatches interacting –insults, playfulness, and all. We discussed how one might make the Sasquatches’ world understandable, and portray their unique culture, without relying too heavily on our own American gestures or customs.
Mario read a piece about the conversations he overheard volunteering at a soup kitchen the previous day. He related three separate snippets of conversation, each laying bare the speakers’ assumptions and prejudices. One conversation grumbled about Latinos, another had to do with Muslim and Jewish people, and a third was about extraterrestrials. One of the interesting themes of Mario’s piece was that the people at the soup kitchen were well-dressed and did not fit the stereotypical image of a homeless person.
By then, the restaurant had DJ music at full volume, but Daniel valiantly rounded out our evening by loudly reading the next portion of his sci-fi novel about Captain Shane Tyrone and his gynoid pilot Bailey. This reading explained how androids were created via nanotech, and it also touched on the captain’s reasons for not wanting to do a “deep merge” with the gynoid’s mind. Shane hinted at privacy fears that the Matrix might scan his thoughts via his mind merge with Bailey. Although Daniel’s story is futuristic, the privacy concerns have present-day relevance, and Shane seems to face similar choices as ours –having to decide between privacy vs. convenience, friendship, and absolute honesty. It was difficult to hear the discussion that took place after Daniel’s reading, but there was some talk about androids vs. gynoids at one end of the table. As usual, Daniel’s writing required no nitpicking.
We ended our meeting on a happy note, brainstorming about quieter places to meet going forward. The chilly autumn air greeted us outside, and a half-moon gleamed against the black sky to see each of us home.