I had a great weekend of writing events. Friday I got to meet with a writers' group and talk writing and books. Is there anything more fun than talking books? Oh yeah, reading them. This group had lots of great questions. Some about the Shakers. More about writing and the process of publishing. These writers knew some about publishing because they gave me a book they'd published with a poem, story, or other piece written by each of the group members. What a thrill to see your words in print!
I don't have any problem remembering seeing my first pieces in print in this or that magazine. And I actually had a poem printed. My second sale ever. As I told the group Friday, I got a whole three dollars for it. But seeing the words "by Ann Gabhart" was (as they say on that t.v. commercial) priceless. I didn't use the H. in my name then. I started doing that when I published The Scent of Lilacs. I was trying to make a new beginning with that book since I'd had several very discouraging writing years prior to that.
I was an interested observer as the writers' group picked a topic for a poem for their next meeting. They had written down suggestions for maybe ten or twelve topics. Then they voted and chose "A turn in the road." I wondered if I'd be able to write a poem about a turn in my road. Probably not. I was never much of a poet in spite of that three dollars I earned with four little rhyming lines once. But I might have thought about a story with a turn in the road. In fact every story has some turns in the roads of the characters. Without a few turns and bends, problems and challenges, you don't have much of a story. So I was impressed with their enthusiasm for writing and their willingness to use their creative energy on a suggested topic. I was never crazy about suggested topics for writing even in high school English. I always wanted to come up with my own idea. Guess that's why I've never been a member of a writers' group.
I did my character exercise with them. They weren't really into it the way most of the groups I've had do it. Maybe they were like me with my suggested topic reluctance. They all wanted to come up with their own names, their own person and not have a community person. One of the writers said he already had his story half written about our woman character named Reeny. I think that was her name. I liked Reena better, but it was their character. The point of the exercise is that we can invent a community character like Reeny but then each of us would write a totally different story from that jumping off spot. Someday when I have a longer workshop, maybe we'll write those stories. Gee, maybe I do like suggested topics after all if I'm doing the suggesting. ;-)
But our writing time ended and I had to hurry home to get ready for the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday. I love book fairs when lots of readers are wandering around looking at everybody's books. And thank you to those of you who carried off my books. I heard from one of those readers who has already read my book, The Believer. In one day. I think she's my new best friend. Back when I wrote young adult fiction and was at this same book fair, a young girl bought one of my books in the morning and came back before I left that afternoon to say she'd already read it. Thank goodness she liked the story and didn't want a refund.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find lots of good books that keep you smiling. I smiled so much yesterday that I felt like a Miss America contestant. But a good book can always make me smile and there were good books all around me.
P.S. See, you guys at the writers' group were right. I did blog about you.