January 2nd, 2012
Writing desk

My desk, given to me by Kate Van Roeken, the first "Mrs. Iptweet" I'd ever met.

I wandered into the Writing Group about 13 years ago, when it  was a children’s book writing class held in the home of author Jennifer Owings Dewey. I’d brought five very short stories with me. My first five ever. Long-story-short: Jennifer and Deb and Catherine and Nadine and Janie welcomed me. They liked the stories a lot. I thought that meant the stories were perfect and complete and I was a genius. Wow, writing is easy.

I know now that the kindness was a ploy! After that first day, I was gently but thoroughly whipped into shape. I had sloppy habits from writing for the stage. As a comedienne, I needed only the barest written outline of my routines. Who needed specifics? My hands, voice, body, and especially my eyebrows, would fill in the gaps on stage. And I left myself lots of room for improvisation.

In class, I was made aware of my “habit” words and phrases. I was taught the golden rule of writing: SHOW-DON’T-TELL. It was explained that DETAILS ARE EVERYTHING. And five million other very important writing tools. What a workout.

 Those first five stories became The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me, my first book.

Mrs. Iptweet is a middle-grade novel, the first in a series. Azro Press published it in 2009. It has won three awards. It would not exist but for the love, encouragement, badgering and unrelenting honesty of my writing group.

I’m working on formatting the manuscript for an e-book now, as well as writing the next books in the Iptweet series. More about that another time.

MY CREATIVE PROCESS

I like to stall, procrastinate and delay my writing as long as possible. I am not sure why. Once I am in the flow, nothing feels better. Sometimes I think stalling is just part of the process and I can relax already and mark down some writing times onto my calendar and it’s okay if something comes up and I move it to the next day or week. It’s okay if I am busy over the holidays, or don’t feel like writing.

Other times I think I am tragically flawed and will never amount to anything. I work myself up into a lather. This is good because lathers drive me to look at what I’m doing and see the avoidance and fear. Oh, an entire blog could be written about the fears. For me, now, it boils down to….

  1. Maybe all my best stories are already written, and
  2. How can I top Book One?

My way of getting past this crap is to take Drastic Action. I call a writer friend and say let’s do a two-week experiment. Let’s meet everyday for two hours at a cafe and write. And we do and I get so much writing done. Stories show up on the page even on days when I feel restless, bored or uninspired. I have had to face it: I need the company. I need another person to sit with for a while – about two weeks. Then I can write at the old home desk again, on my own. I’m back in the Inspired Flow…. until I’m not again, and more Drastic Action is required. Hey, whatever it takes.

The other thing I notice is that when I show up for the Flow of Stories, every other part of my life gets better, too. The Flow of Stories somehow flips on the Flow of Life switch. It’s pretty wild.

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2 Responses to “First Day at Writing Group”

  1. Terry Wilson says:

    Great, Barbara! I love the Drastic Action idea! Procrastination seems to be a common problem with writers….with me, that is! It might be time for Drastic Action!;-)