January 10, 2011

Jumpstarting My Writing Battery in 2011

Since I've numerous requests about what went on at the writing workshop I attended (ok, it was TWO requests, but two IS a number, ya know), I thought I'd talk about what happened.

Remember, this blog is all about YOU, the readers.

I kid...it's all about ME, so my retelling of the events will satisfy my greedy self, too!

I attended a workshop hosted by the St. Louis Writers Guild. Months and months ago, I attended another writing group (which I wrote about here). Let's just say my first foray into a group of writers was not a smashing success - I had big hopes for Saturday's event.

I was not disappointed.

I got to meet Becky Povich, an area blogger who is as super-friendly in person as she is in her posts. She even saved me a seat!

Then I had the unique experience of having another blogger, after Becky told her who I was, say "I read YOU!" It was rather surreal, that. For a fraction of a second, mind you, I'm sure I had the same expression as James Caan's character in Misery, when Kathy Bates' character said, "Hello Paul, I'm your biggest fan." But don't fret, no hobbling took place.

My "fan", Lynn Obermoeller, writes Present Letters, a blog done in epistolary form.

I also met Linda O'Connell, who writes the blog Write From the Heart.

It was a very warm welcome!

The workshop, hosted by Pat Bubash, a local author and counselor, was called 'WRITE NOW!' Hopefully, it is a way to get us all a jumpstart into writing in this new year.

Knowing WHO your character is important. And before you can truly know your character, you gotta know yourself.

So we talked about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment. I'm sure some of you have taken that test before.

The results fall into the following categories:

Orientation of Energy (either Extrovert or Introvert)
Attending - Perception (either Sensing or INtuition)
Deciding - Judgment (either Thinking or Feeling)
LIving - Orientation to Outside World (either Judgment or Perception)

I am an INFP. Many people may utilize their own type in their writing. 

And in the spirit of cooperation, and going totally against my introverted tendencies, I participated, and even volunteered to read a poem (by William Stafford) aloud to the class.

Pat talked about self-publishing, and how 700,000 of the million books published last year were self-published. So don't be afraid to just write and get your work out there.

Did you know the Kindle was the most purchased item on Amazon.com in 2010? Self-publishing of ebooks is the wave of the future. You can visit here for more information from Amazon.com - it's free to self-publish there, and writers are eligible to participate in a royalty program for any books downloaded from their site.

The most interesting part of the workshop was when we all read a sample writing response (written by an anonymous college student). We were supposed to consider the methods a writer can use to reveal and develop character:

  • What they say
  • What they do
  • What others say about them
  • Their physical characteristics
  • Their "motives" (what makes them tick)

Because this generated such a lively discussion, I've typed the text here:

I'm like in eighth grade and I got this teacher and she's short and plays the piano and us kids are suppose to be a choir, but that's some joke. Anyway, Christmas is coming and she says to me, "Do you play the drums?" And I say, "No, but I will if you want." I said that because I always know how to handle the teachers, especially the older, funny-looking ones. Anyway, I say, "Sure." So she gives me this coffee can with part of a tire stretched over the top to make a kind of ratty-looking drum and she says, "You just keep the rhythm going and help us, will you please?" I just smile and beat that crummy drum but all the while I know I'm the one that gets the drum because I don't sing good and she wants to be Paul Schaeffer or the conductor of the Boston Pops or somebody doing miracles with the junior high choir and she don't want me to mess it up.

So I beat that crummy drum. Everybody's singing and I'm not and I ask her about it one time after class and she says, "Some people just don't sing good and you're some people."

Well, me, I want to cry, but I do it later when she don't see and she don't never know how mean she is, but from then on any time I'm alone I sing. I sing in the shower. I sing walking down the street. All the time I sing. I learn all the words to all the songs on the radio and I got all my sister's CDs by heart. I figure there ain't nobody gonna tell me I cant sing, 'cause I do.

I guess I'd like to have that music teacher be a soldier in an army where I'm the general. I'd tell her, "You can't shoot that rifle, stupid." And "Go peel potatoes 'cause that's all you're good for." Or maybe she could be a grocery bagger in a market where Im' the manager and I'd say, "Watch how I put this quart of milk in this bag and if you can do it right, but I know you can't so you're fired!" Or maybe someday when all this singing I'm doing pays off and I'm a famous singer with a famous band, then I'll come back to this lousy school and tell everybody the music teacher and me are gonna do a duet. I'll be famous and all the kids and their folks and maybe the whole town will come. Then I'll find that stupid woman and she'll be all excited and she'll ask me, "What are we gonna sing?" Me, I'll just put this real serious look on my face and I'll ask her, "Do you play the drums?"

Pat had said that this was written in the 60s, but they mention CDs, so that's not likely. Then we had a discussion about the character. I was one of two people who thought it was written by a girl.

I thought that the character showed a level of deviousness that only an adolescent girl can possess. A boy would have just wanted to key her car or punch her out. I also thought that a boy would never write that he cried, since males are generally more closedmouthed about their interior emotional life than females.

When I got home, I asked The Mister to read the paper, and asked him what he thought. He agreed with my assumption that the character was a girl (and was written by a female).

I think that fact alone pretty much assures me that I am totally clueless.

And on the writing front? I have a book idea in mind, and have created an outline. Now I just have to sit down and get at it.

And I just may join the Writers Guild.

If you'd like to take the Jung and Myers Briggs test, click here.



  1. Hey June! I'm so happy you were pleasantly surprised with the writers workshop Saturday! That's the first SLWG event I'd attended in a long time and I definitely enjoyed it, too. I think you'd fit right in with the group....especially since there is no particular type writer you HAVE to be, to be part of it! Thanks for your very kind comments about me, too...blush-blush...I'm glad you got to meet Linda and Lynn, too! Here's to a New Year of Writing!

  2. What a wonderful day it must have been. Sounds like it was a real jumpstart for you. I'll be your cheerleader if you need one! Kudos to you for going and joining in!

  3. How fun and exciting!!! I'm glad you went and met a fan. (Relieved there was no hobbling.) I took the Myers-Briggs ages ago and I think I was an INFJ. I wonder if that is still true.


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!