From the BWCA to The Void

I am two weeks into a new writing group at AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop. I went from a writing workshop focus to a book writing group. The differences are subtle, yet I am in the group with two others (and a 3rd, the instructor) who were in the Wednesday night group previously. This makes it more familiar and comfortable for me, yet the changes on what I am focusing on from a writer's perspective are significant.

The Wednesday group is structured so that students bring up to 10 pages of their work or 3 poems every week. The work is read in front of the group and then the group critiques it for 10 minutes or so. Depending on attendance and because of time limitations, from week to week, half the class gets to read. The group is supportive and helpful on what works and what doesn't.

The Thursday group is different in that up to 14 pages are submitted ahead of time via email to everyone in the group every week. The students then read each others' work and critique it on their own time. Critiques are brought to class and the time is divided up so that everyone gets the same amount of critique time every class.

Thursdays are built around people trying to plow through their manuscript in the name of getting a book finished. Wednesdays can serve the same purpose, but because the focus is different, it may take a bit longer.

Anyhow, in the new class, I am the lone nonfiction writer in the group. I am also the only man in the group (except the instructor). I share the class with four women, all of whom are writing Young Adult (YA) Fantasy. Needless to say, it has been an interesting couple of weeks.

As someone who focuses on memoir and creative nonfiction, I find these colleagues and their work fascinating. This is because there's a part of me that cannot (or maybe hasn't tried) think in the fantasy dimension. Fiction is hard enough, and then you throw in witchcraft, magic, and the like, and, well, writing from memory seems pretty simple. (It's not).

Since I've been in my writing group Young Adult fantasy writers have introduced me to (My interpretations in parentheses):

Selkies (Seal people)
Slips (Places used to escape)
Green Witches (They come in colors?)
Voids (Dark places)
Immortals (People who never die, or regenerate on demand)
Shape shifters (Animals/people capable of changing into other things)
Vampire Surveyors (Don't ask)
Warlocks (He-witches)
Loch Nessie type things (Forgot their real names)
Unicorns (That can also turn to human)
Portals (Like slips, only bigger?)
Orbs (Things used to guide or as crystal balls)
Covens (Flocks of witches, LOL)
Zombie Lovers (With falling off body parts)
Merfairies (Mermaid/Fairies)
Monochromatic boys (vs. colored)
Tethers (That link immortals to their master)

There are many more that I can't even remember. It has been educational and fascinating at the same time. As I have often said, I cannot even think in this dimension. Wild stuff. Crazy, fun, bizarre and unbelievably complex stuff. Most of it well thought out in the name of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer.

And so, as I continue on from week to week, it's going to be great fun to leave my nine-to-five life once a week and enter the land of the immortals, the unicorns, the selkies, and the monochrome boy. Because, as readers (and writers), that's what it's all about; escapism. Leaving the safety of my predictable, sometimes dull urban life and fighting the evil forces in the name of righteous justice. It's like a two hour movie with four subplots every week, and instead of popcorn and snowcaps, we get cheese balls and M&M's.

It's crazy, it's fantastic, exhausting and exhilarating. But most of all, it's exciting to be a part of what one day may end up on a bookshelf or in an Amazon shopping cart.

Blogging off...

{{{Exits through a portal into the void}}}


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