Writing Workshop

There was no fear in the hearts of those who attended the “Superstition and Suspense” member workshop last night. Friday the 13th proved to be anything but unlucky. Even if we considered only its most basic purpose – to meet with fellow writers – we already recognize the good luck in the evening. To be lucky enough to find others who care and foster a relationship with those who share a passion for words, is indeed, a good luck charm. We have amongst us those who also gather joy from, not only their own work, but the work of others who chance to share their words and their similar love for writing.

The workshop setting provided a wonderful backdrop for the eerie writing evening. Although, it was one of those chilly summer nights, overcast with rain and wind, jackets and blankets kept the attendees warm enough to experience nature under the cover of Mandy’s screened-in deck. At times you didn’t even notice the stormy weather as we huddled around the table, writing to timed prompts on the 13 theme, laughing, as we scribbled a suitable ending to our work while trying to beat the timer’s count down.

I am happy that we managed to “weather the weather” and remain outdoors to write. I am sure the basement room would have provided a great setting, too, (our collective imaginations run wild) but the surrounding trees and rain and even the wind, just made it even more memorable. And what would a writing workshop on Friday the 13th be without superstitions, black cats, wondrous discoveries of luck (good or bad), and foretelling of the future with horoscopes. The topics presented provided the writers in attendance with prompts to inspire imaginative words while keeping us on the theme of the workshop.

I particularly enjoyed one that made a writer stretch his or her own imagination beyond the literary obvious – a tale about a ring. We all know Tolkien can never be matched and none of us would claim to do so. One comment, however, addressed the fact that “we never wrote on this” and so true – there are only so many plots and themes, but the difference lies in HOW we tell our story. The prompt was simply stated and it was meant to induce your own thoughts, ideas, and a tale in whatever manner you chose to address it.

“You discover an ornate ring around a tree root.”

The day was one of those that blows in like a blast of winter, then fades into an open pocket of blue sky and sunshine. Enough to tease you, tempt you, and treat you for just a moment in time. Dark clouds swirled in the distant skies to all four corners of my world; pelting rain showered, off and on.

The trees were welcome cover from the cool wetness but I was also wary of the warnings of seeking safety under trees during a storm. Thankfully, the lightning was now at a far off distance, so I took my chances, and dashed under the sheltering canopy.

It was a brief stand of trees that divided meadow from meadow, and its reprieve ended all too soon. I would have to wait out the current squall, so I positioned myself under the heavy boughs of the outer most pine. Its upper needles shimmered with rain but the dense, thick branches near the base of the tree kept me dry. The rain poncho I wore, provided a dry cover for the ground, so I sat content, at least for the moment.

Shuffling to a more comfortable position, my hand struck hard against an exposed root, knocking loose the dirt lodged against it. Something glimmered in the darkness and I leaned in close to examine what appeared to be a ring encased around an off-shoot about a finger’s width. The sprawling roots of the huge tree, traveled under me into the next clearing – I was unsure how long this ring could have been here, but I was determined to have it.

Using the hunting knife I had stashed in my belt, I cut it free. I held it close, inspecting the intricate gold pattern and dark ruby stone that adorned my new found treasure. I was so absorbed that I did not even realize the next clearing in the clouds had long disappeared and the lightening that was distant now threatened directly overhead.

With a thunderous crack, a bolt hit the tree and split the ancient ring bearer dead centre.

Yes, there may be more that could follow but given 13 minutes to write – that is what came of it.

The great thing about prompts is the fact that results are as individual as the writer and even if the same plot or theme or idea is reflected within the writing, how it is told, is unique to each writer. Our own voice carries through the story with differences in how we describe setting, show detail, or involve characters. Those characters may even ourselves, as we tell the story in the first person as if we were right there. This brings a different personality to each version. The same author could even write it from a totally different perspective or “point of view” and, in essence, change the story and how it is told.

It is said that the writer’s life is a lonely life, but I maintain that the connection you have with others who write is an important part of your journey. Where you meet them and for how long, is open and could merely involve a “virtual” meeting – you wouldn’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to connect with others who share your writing world. It is, however, very gratifying to me to work with others, in person. This interaction allows me to grow as a writer, and the valuable feedback I receive, is something that respect and embrace. Acceptance is something every writer desires.

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2 Comments

Filed under On Writing

2 responses to “Writing Workshop

  1. A wonderful piece of writing – it is true a writer can be solitary but we have been blessed with an awesome circle of writers. The interaction, support and guidance is given freely and with consideration for each writer’s skill level and knowledge.
    I, for one, love prompts either with words or pictures – the mind comes up with an idea and the results are surprising, enjoyable and fun. As you say each prompt’s answer is as individual as the writer and that makes sharing even more worthwhile.

  2. Delicious result for that prompt! Isn’t it so very true; experiencing writing community is important to a writer as he/she develops the craft. I could picture myself on Mandy’s deck – what a wonderful experience to write outdoors yet protected from the harshness of the weather.

    True, too, the phenomenon regarding the myriad of results from a single prompt. Wouldn’t that be a great writing challenge: write 3 different stories from the same prompt? You come up with the cleverest of ideas!

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