Monday, January 24, 2011
Dad woke with a cold this morning, so if you're on the way down from the cold, cold north, could you pick up some zinc lozenges and a pint of whiskey? 'Preciate it.
Yesterday, on The Great ASHES TO WATER Florida Library Tour, I stopped in Dunedin. Dunedin is in Pinellas County. That probably means something only if you live in Pinellas County, but you never know when it might show up in a crossword puzzle. Just this morning, Daytona Beach and Ocala were clue-and-answer in the NYTimes, so...yeah.
At the Dunedin Library, I gave a 1.5 hour workshop on "Writing Diaglogue That Brings Characters to Life.' A good crowd showed up; I have Elizabeth White to thank for that. (THANKS, Liz!)
I asked each participant why he or she was there, and most were aspiring writers. A few had written an e-Book or two, one had published three childrens' books, another had just published what she called a "little" short story.
A "little" short story.
Why do some writers diminish their accomplishments? Is it because the word "writer" should be reserved for the Faulkners or Pattersons of the world, who write "big" or commercially successful works? Maybe some writers fear they will be thought egotistic if they say, "I'm a writer." Maybe they don't believe it themselves.
If you write, you are a writer. If you have published a short story, it is not a small accomplishment or a "little" work. You are allowed to be proud in public. And if someone thinks less of you because you're proud of what you've created, whose problem do you suspect that is? I'm not saying you should be a braggart, or blow your publication out of proportion, but please don't call your work "little." All work is important, and deserves acknowledgment. The short story writer who inspired this lecture says she gets that now, by the way. I'm glad. My work here is done.
In Dunedin, we talked about the functions of dialogue. In case you're interested, they are (among others) to move the story forward, to reveal character and relationships, to involve the reader (through the use of subtext), to change the pace, and to entertain. An hour and a half went by quickly. I like to think a good time was had by all. They didn't chase me to my car with pitchforks and torches, at any rate.
Then I got a lot of questions that had to do with getting an agent. Which tells me that I need to put together a program on "How to Get an Agent." The first thing I will say is, "First, get an editor."
I'd like to give a shout out to my Richmond friend Toni, who asked her in-laws to come to the program. Not only did they come, they bought two books as well! I'm very grateful.
Then I stuffed myself into the Miata and drove north to Tarpon Springs, famous for their sponge docks. The docks aren't made of sponge; the divers harvest sponge and bring them to the docks where they are...oh never mind. I had lunch and coffee with my college roommate Beth who says I am a terrible driver. Our dialogue when something like this:
I don't EVER want to hear you say that I am a terrible driver again, because you almost got me killed back there!
I did not.
You did, too.
Pretty scintillating stuff, eh? That's because I'm a real writer.
And I extend my sincere best wishes to you and your important work.