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Monday, February 07, 2005

A DAY IN THE LIFE...

"A little work, a little play, to keep us going -- and so, goodnight."
George Louis Palmella Buson du Maurier


So...a day in the life of a writer...
I have been so busy the past couple of weeks, getting lessons started and other appointments, that I haven't had time to go to the gym or waterfit. I did manage to start back on my Atkins program three weeks ago, went to the gym and pool that first week, but since then I haven't been able to get there. So, this week I decided I definitely had to get back into the fitness routine. All work and no play....as they say. And besides, sitting for long hours at the computer is definitely not good for the body.

I had an important errand to run first. Last week I delivered a letter of introduction to two neighbhourhood schools to the English departments to see if they'd be interested in having me come to the Creative Writing classes to talk about being a writer. This is part of the 'Off the Page' program I've been selected to take part in by the Federation of B.C. Writers. As I hadn't heard back from them, I thought I better do a follow-up. Both of these schools, the junior and senior highs, were where I first began writing and thinking seriously about becoming a writer. So I definitely feel that it would be a thrill to go back there and talk to the children about how I carried through with my hopes and dreams. I do have an appointment Wednesday at the school I went to last year, but these other two schools have that special importance to me.

After I walked around delivering my letters requesting an appointment, I went to the fitness centre, worked out with the weights, machines, stationary bike and floor exercises. Then I went up the Drive to do my shopping. By the time I got home it was late and I stopped to make some soup for lunch. Then I was able to get down to the daily business of writing.

I managed to write for a couple of hours, completed another chapter segement of the novel. Good job, as I realized it was my turn to read at my critique group tonight. That meant I could workshop all three of the short segements I've written since Friday.

I had to go away across town to the workshop meeting. That meant three long bus rides. But it's always a joy to be with my critique group so any effort is worth it.

Our group, The Scribblers, was first formed more than 10 years ago when a creative writing class from night school decided to go independant. I was invited in by another friend, and from there the group grew. Some of the original members are still part of the group, but we have new recruits as soon as there is space. (We try to keep it to about 12 members. There are usually about 8 - 10 at the meetings.) I've talent-scouted several of the newer members from my novel and creative writing classes.

We meet every Monday at various member's homes. We have 3 readers each week and 2 spares in case someone can't attend. Two read before the break, we stop for refreshments, and then 1 other reads (usually the one with the longest piece). It is all critiquing except for the break when we socialize.

But the most unique thing about Scribblers is that we go on two retreats each year to a nearby island, always staying at the same motel units so it has become our writer's home-away-from-home. Only the writers go on these retreats and the funds are paid for out of our monthly $10 fees. Added up it generally pays for 2 cars on the ferry and 2 motel units. Members are designated meals and bring appropriate food and snacks. While we are there for the weekends, we do writing exercises and play crazy writer games. Usually there is a 'theme' so we often have costumes. One of the most fun weekends was when we were pirates, a "Treasure Island" theme. We do have social events once in awhile too, mainly our Christmas party, at which spouses and friends are invited to join in the fun. At the Christmas parties, we write anonymous seasonal stories and have a little contest to try and guess who wrote what.

It's important in a writer's critique group to have complete trust and a congenial rapport between the writers. The critiques are excellent, and very helpful. I doubt I would have managed to get myself through this entire w.i.p. manuscript of mine had it not been for my Scribbler's group. They are a steady source of inspiration and encouragement.

So every Monday night is a special night for me as I head off for our weekly meeting. Tonight I read my three chapter segements. Got lots of good advice and mostly encouraging words. A big sigh of relief as I can now go on to the next parts without too much rewriting.

Tomorrow morning I'll rise early, go to the pool for waterfit, and then head home for an afternoon of writing. A great way to start the day! Hopefully I'll be able to stick to my fitness program now as it is so energizing and helps take the tension out of my back and shoulders after all those hours at the computer.

"Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day..."
William James

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