Thursday, June 10, 2010


A couple of weeks ago I went on a retreat with one of my writers' groups. It was brilliant. Half of us arrived during the day and the rest in the evening of Friday. When we entered the apartment, it became 2015 and we were in character.

I don't expect a lot to change in my life in just five years. I'll have finished my Grad Cert, hopefully finished my PhD as well and, with a bit of luck and more persistence than I've shown so far, have a book accepted for publication. That's it. I was absolutely fascinated to hear the five year plans of the other writers in the group. They ranged from having two books on the NY Times bestseller list simultaneously, to making a success of a new small business to having multiple books published with local (ie Australian) publishers to becoming totally self-sustaining as far as providing food and energy for the household. Brilliant.

One of the activities we did was a creative collage exercise. A few weeks before we spent a day at a cemetary and chose some people as a focus for a short story. The collage was to help us flesh out those characters and put them in situations that could build into story. It's been a long time since I've spent a couple of hours cutting out pictures and sticking them on cardboard. It's very soothing.

This is the result of my efforts. I didn't use all the pictures I cut out but I've kept them and will use them for other stories.

When I came home, I put the collage on the dining table and left it there for a few days. Every one who came to visit stopped at the table and examined the board. Every one of them came up with their own explanation of who the people were and how they related to each other. The only thing these stories had in commone was the fact that every one of them picked the same person as the villian!


Jim Harris said...

When I was at Clarion West in 2002 there were 17 of us, and we all had big dreams. One person in our group won the Andre Norton award this year at the Nebula Awards for children book writing. Another woman has had several stories published. One guy published an anthology and is leaning towards editing. And a few people published a couple stories and quit. But for the most part we've all been far less successful than we imagined. I think was Gardner Dozois that told us he expected 3-4 of us to be publishing in about 5 years. I think some of my fellow would-be writers have gone on to other things, but some of us keep dreaming. Writing is a weird ambition.

Danielle Ferries said...

First of all I love that people stop by and comment on your collage and provide all sorts of ideas and inspiration.

Secondly, I love that everyone took away extra pictures for future collages. I think we should do this more often.

glediar said...

I agree. I think it has to almost become an obsession to get passed the slush pile and keep going. I love writing and I can't not write but I'm not sure it will ever become the only thing I'm interested in doing; the obsession it needs to be.

glediar said...

You're right Danielle. Spending the weekend focussed on writing was brilliant. It provided a much-needed push for me to spend time every day focussed on nothing but story. I love it when my imagination runs riot.