Actually, not so new. I started writing Jokers in my travelling heyday from my trailer in Key Largo. Realizing I didn’t have enough writing skills yet to properly tell the story, I stopped writing on page 181. I never abandoned the story, though. It lay in the back of my mind for over twenty years before I tried my hand at it again.
It’s now my current project. I’m roughly three quarters the way through the first draft, and enjoying it immensely. The characters and story line have had plenty of time to ferment. And in tribute for making the novel sit for so long, it takes place in the original year it was supposed to: 1994.
It’s the first installment in what, I believe, will be a trilogy.
Winter Wheat Festival 2014
A blustery, cold day, indeed, when I attended the Winter Wheat Festival. A small price to pay for the festivities and to satisfy my inner writing geek. Another year visited (I attended the 2013 event, as well), another year satisfied.
What Is This Winter Wheat Festival, Anyway?
For of those who don’t know, shame on you– if you’re a writer in the Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan area, at least. All shame aside (I hadn’t known about it until last year myself), it’s worth the trip, and definitely worth the price (free– donations are welcome, though).
The Winter Wheat Festival isn’t a festival, per se. It’s more of a convention, in my humble opinion. The fine folks at Mid-American Review put it on every year for writers to come and partake in the myriad of presentations to learn about writing and better themselves at the craft. It’s held on the Bowing Green State University campus in the Student Union.
You can out more about it here.
The Winter Wheat Festival always has a good variety of sessions to choose from. With multiple sessions running at the same times, it’s often difficult to choose. However, I muddled through. I didn’t attend the first days’ session, which consisted only of a reading. I did go for the entirety of the next two days with some of my fellow members of the Toledo Writers Workshop.
The first day was a bit short, running only a couple of session blocks with reading afterward. Mike Hackney ran one of the sessions ourselves: “Running a Fun and Effective Workshop.” A bit of small turnout, but overall, I think it went well. The other session I attended was “Playing God: Breathing Life into your Characters.” Afterward, the Toledo Writers went to dinner, and then hit a nearby pub for some karaoke and to partake in the local spirits (which strangely resembled the local spirits of just about everywhere, including mixed drinks and Anheuser Busch products). After some (if I must say so myself) pretty solid annihilation of a slew of karaoke tunes, we drove back to Toledo.
I was still wired from the day’s activities, so sleep didn’t come easy. In total, I scraped out about an hour’s worth of sleep. Then off to Mike’s again at 8 am to carpool to Bowling Green.
The next day included 4 more sessions. I chose:
- “Postmodern Place Writing: Recovering Lost Places”
- “Bitches Be Crazy: Portraying Madness in the Short Story”
- “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? The Road, the Traveler, and Beyond”
- “Websites for Writers: Launch Your Website in a Weekend”
Then another reading with two published poets. I’d like to say I took it all like a trooper, but even with half a gallon of coffee pumping through me, I started nodding off in the final session and the reading. I hope they didn’t take it personally.
I acquired some good information over the two days (though admittedly not as much as the previous year). On top of that, many of the sessions include workshops, where you do some writing and, if courage and humility allows, share it with the rest of the class. Most of what I wrote wasn’t of any note. I did get something from one of the sessions where we had to write a paragraph about a place we were familiar with, then write a second paragraph about it, seen through someone else’s eyes. I chose the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Plant.
Here’s my paragraphs:
I could start to see it from Oregon. It, a beacon that capped in the chasm of Route 2 (even before its lungs were expanded to more inhale and exhale the semis and passenger cars cars of the city). This beacon was crowned with living white that would tell me the predictions for the day: the wind was harsh and from the North, the lake would be turbulent; or there was no wind at all, water skis would glide, we would not bounce in our wooden sled. As it grew, its hourglass frame filling the horizon, we were close. Close to the cottage, the boat, the happy memories that unfolded before my young eyes.
A retreat to nature. A chance to skim on waters of seemingly endless horizon. To the north, islands and other countries. To the south, trees, and beyond that, promises of middle America. But also that creature that reminds me of man’s encroaching interference. A steel frame, belching smoke (that is smoke, correct? Not the the steam they claim). Inside, its blood boils with the heat of radiation.
All right, it needs some work. While I do like to participate in these impromptu writing blocks, sometimes we aren’t given a whole lot of time to complete them. All well and good, plenty of time to hit it with an editing pen later. Or give it a proper burial in one of the conveniently-placed trash receptacles.
After the final session, they served us an off-site dinner at the same place we assaulted with our karaoke singing the night before. Then, an open mic, allowing writers to read the stuff they wrote during the festival. After that, more karaoke. I couldn’t do it. Nope, couldn’t get my tired, glazed eyes to read the screen even if I wanted to.
This year’s Winter Wheat was another overall good experience for me. I’ll definitely be attending again next year.