Writers’ Mill Minutes Jan 21st 2018
Our first meeting of 2018 was fairly sparsely attended with only 12 people present. We blamed the weather, and invite anyone who wasn’t there to weigh in on the questions below:
- What do you want to achieve this year? (Feel free to add your goals to the box at February’s meeting.)
- What do you want from the Writers’ Mill this year? (Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your requests.)
- How important are speaker engagements to you?
- How important is it to have regular critiques?
- How important is it to have regular writing exercises at our meetings?
To start the meeting, we passed around the clipboard (new year, new list of names and email addresses), and asked (in keeping with January’s contest) “Why are you here at the Writers’ Mill?” Answers included:
- To interact with other writers
- To work on craft and hone skills
- To gain perspective
- To be encouraged to tell stories
- To become a better writer
- To become ready to enter contests
- To receive inspirational critique
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Please join us!
Next we took a look at last year’s goals. Each year we invite members to write up to three goals on a small piece of paper that is folded and hidden away in the bright green box. At the turn of the year, we like to recognize how many of us have achieved success, if not in our goals, at least in other people’s goals. These are the goals we set for 2017:
- Get our books into stores – sadly we’re still only succeeding in getting them into e-stores, but 9 of us achieved this.
- Learn about marketing – 9 of us felt we had learned something this year.
- Contribute to the journal (our annual anthology) – 10 successes!
- Add to a memoir – 2 members
- Get published in a magazine – 3 members
- Work on a poetry collection – 2 members said they had moved forward with this
- Write around 3 pages per week – This seemed like a good goal; 7 out the 12 people in the meeting said they’d achieved it
- Select pictures for our stories: Those of us working on this year’s journals certainly achieved this – 5 successes
- Get a book to 1st draft – 3 members
- Publish a small anthology – 2 members
- Enter more than 2 writing contests – 11 members (Keep entering our contests and you’ll be among these successes)
- Enter contests other than Writers’ Mill contests – 4 members
- Publish a book – 2 members
- Work on creative writing – 11
- Work on research – 5
- Submit to a good well-paying publication – 1
So… a pretty successful year – success that was encouraged, I’m sure, by our monthly contests (thank you Judy) and the various speakers we’ve enjoyed at the Writers’ Mill (Thank you Jean). For those of you who missed the talks listed below, don’t forget you can easily find notes from them on our website. Just type “minutes” into the categories space on the left hand side of the page and see what comes up.
- Software for writing (Dec Walt)
- Poetry writing and appreciation (Nov & Feb Carolyn Martin, Jim Stewart)
- Book marketing (Oct Walt, June Sarah, May Jim)
- Self-publishing (Sept Beth Jusino, Oct Walt, May Jim)
- Research (Aug Zita)
- Writers’ Life (Aug Zita, July Tim Applegate, Brian Doyle, Jim Stewart, Steve Theme)
- Getting published (Aug Zita, June Sarah, May Jim)
- Costs of publishing (Oct Walt, Aug Zita, June Sarah, May Jim)
- Inspiration (Nov Carolyn Martin, March Nancy Linnon, Christi Krug)
- Memoir (March Nancy Linnon, Steve Theme)
- Critique and self-critique (Ron and Sheila)
- Writing exercises (Apr Sheila, Nov Carolyn …)
Which leads to the obvious next question – what do we want from this year’s Writers’ Mill meetings and speakers? Here are the topics suggested during our discussion. Please email email@example.com if you want to add to the list.
- Craft of writing:
- Scene and character development
- Point of view and how to avoid passive writing
- Poetry craft
- That whole publishing thing
- Getting an agent or publisher
- How to use Createspace, how to publish on Kindle, etc
- Writers Life
- Revising, critiquing, editing …
- Writers’ block and finding inspiration
Jean has been working on getting speakers and suggesting topics to them. So far this year we have
- Jan, Sheila, goals
- Feb, Zita, websites – a vital part of the writers’ life, marketing and getting published
- March, Teri Brown, novelist, teacher and editor – she’ll be able to address many of the topics above
- April, Joyce Cresswell, how to self-publish and sell
- May, not yet assigned
- June, with thanks to the library, Beth Jusino will return to talk about how to pitch your book – and yes, our meeting does coincide with Father’s Day, but we’re sure Beth Jusino will be a big enough draw to bring all of you and many guests to the library for a couple of hours.
- July, Carolyn Martin – our favorite poet returns to address questions raised at her last talk
- August, Beth Jusino, how to build an author marketing plan
- September, not yet assigned
- October, Beth Jusino on self-editing
As you can see, we already have an exciting year planned, with more speakers to come. Jean is already in touch with someone who can tell us about audio-books, and we hope to find someone to talk about the legal aspects of publishing. Sheila is willing (with technical assistance from the library) to get someone’s book from Word doc to book ready for release on Createspace and/or Kindle if someone has a book ready for release.
After wonderful snacks from Karin (and there we were, with good intentions after Christmas delights), Sheila handed out awards for January’s “Why are you here?” contest.
- First Place — Judy Beaston for “Final Chords”
- Second Place — Karin Krafft for “So, Why Am I Here?”
- Third Place — Jean Harkin for “Reason For Being”
Other entries were “Allie’s Apprehension” by Lauri Leonetti, “Carl on the Road” by Matthew McAyeal, “Chosen to Love” by Robin Layne, “Hashtag MeToo” by Richard David Bach, “Kitkit’s Smelly Adventure” by Sheila Deeth, “Long-distance phone-call blues” by Sheila Deeth, “Perhaps” by Susan Apurado, and “Why Indeed?” by Jessie Collins
Upcoming contests are
- Feb – What the Heart wants – Carolyn –deadline Feb 4th
- March – Lost – Carolyn – deadline March 4th
- April – a piece of writing set prior to 1900 – Matthew – deadline April 1st
Jim led an excellent critique of Carolyn’s poem, where we discussed:
- How the title can fit or add to a poem
- How poetry evokes images and feelings
- The importance and power of original phrases and images in poetry
- The effect of words that stand out – alliteration, assonance, consonance… musical sounds…
- The effect of structure in a poem – how line breaks, line lengths, stanza breaks and lengths affect a reader? Do you pause at them, read straight through them, feel drawn to read the next line…?
- How a poem leads images to grow and recede in the reader’s mind
- Does anything have to happen in a poem
- How do starts and endings affect the power of a poem
- What do we bring to reading a poem, and what does the author bring?
- How do poems affect you visually as well as aurally.
If you want to know more about reading and critiquing poetry, look for the notes from Carolyn Martin’s talk a year ago: http://portlandwritersmill.org/27/writing-and-appreciating-poetry-with-carolyn-martin-from-her-talk-in-february-2017/
Finally, since we’re a writing group, we ended with a writing exercise. For those of you who missed it, feel free to try it at home.
The prompt for February’s contest is “What the heart wants,” so, since your heart wants to write, find a piece of paper and split it into five.
- Write the number 1. This is the Beginning of your story. Ask who, what, where, and when is your character? What does your character’s heart want? (This is an exercise in character development.)
- Next write the number 5 (NOT 2) This is the End of you story – how will your character and/or world change? (More character development)
- Write the number 3. This is the Middle – how is your character struggling to effect that change?
- Now you get to write the number 2. How did your character get into this mess and why (internal and external reasons)? (This is morphing into an exercise in plot development)
- Write the number 4. How did your character successfully get out of this mess?
Now write the story/essay/poem with the numbers in the right order – i.e. 1, followed by 2, followed by 3, etc. Then send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of Sunday for inclusion in our February contest.
One final thing: we’ve been contacted by a group in Wales who are running an international poetry contest. Go to http://www.welshpoetry.co.uk to find out more!