One Hundred Thousand

My creative writing class has concluded, but some people from the class have taken the initiative to start up a sort of “writing circle”. The idea is to continue the process of writing and soliciting feedback from the group. Something Joel said to me after the last class that quite resonated with me was that for basically everyone the first 100,000 words they write is pure crap. Or he might have said ‘shit’, I can’t recall. I think that’s likely true, for everyone who isn’t some sort of literary genius. I’m actually thinking that our writers’ group should be called “One Hundred Thousand”, or possibly “One Hundred Thousand Words” in honor of the process of getting those first shitty 100,000 words done with so we can actually start producing some decent stuff.

 

The first meeting of the group is on January 10 (or 9 depending on who you ask, so I’ll have to determine what the actual date is). The tentative structure is that we’ll review from 4 to 6 pieces per meeting, and we’ll meet once per month. I imagine we’ll need some rules on how often one may submit, based on the size of the group.

 

With that in mind, I need to start writing! I’d love to have something submitted for the first meet, but at the same time I don’t want to rush to churn out something crappy just to get it in before the submissions limit is reached. I have an outline of a story in mind:

 

This story is about a dog and his family of humans. The story takes place over a holiday, likely Thanksgiving, when the extended family is together at the dog’s house. The basic plot is that the dog can smell that the family’s grandpa has colon cancer. No one else knows this, including the grandpa himself, but the dog knows this guy is going to be dead within a few months at the most. So the story is about the dog pointedly hanging out with the grandpa while the rest of the family pretty much ignores him, the way that families generally ignore the old folks. I’m envisioning a possible scene where some of the kids try to pull the dog away from grandpa to come play, and the dog actually growls at them to leave him alone, and there’s a bit of scolding and trouble for him having growled at the kids.

 

The story would be filled in with some reveries. I’m thinking at least one reverie on the part of the dog where he’s thinking about his brother Trevor (tentative name) who’s now dead. I’d like there to be some real attachment on the part of the reader for Grandpa as well – otherwise he’s just a motionless lump taking up space in the story. The POV changes could be tricky, because I’m envisioning starting off from the dog’s POV, then switching to the grandpa, then back to the dog. The grandpa’s reverie would be about… I don’t know. It should connect to the theme of loss, or of appreciating what you have while you have it. The story wraps up with… I’m not sure yet, but initially I was going to say I would show the grandpa dying and the family commenting on how the dog had been spending so much time with him – but that’s too heavy-handed. I think it could be better to just end the story with the dog watching as the family argues about who has to drive grandpa back to his retirement home.

 

So… tricky. Tricky story to write. I can see a lot of potential pitfalls in writing too sappy or too heavy-handed, which I have been known for. Still, I think it’s worth trying; and you know what else? I think it’s important that this writing group becomes a safe place for us to experiment with different themes and genres; so this definitely fits into that.

 

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