It took a visit to a Writer’s Group to re-gain an understanding of my purpose and passion in writing.
The attendees at the Group were all published authors or aspiring to be in print, in one variety of fiction or another, for the most part a sub-category of Romance Fiction or a version of Historical Fiction. All the members of the Group were quite welcoming with helpful suggestions from their perspectives as authors. I readily recommend being a part of a Writer’s Group.
Each participant at the Group had submitted an example of his/her writing to be critiqued by the others in attendance. Somehow I managed to lose track of the submissions that had been emailed to me in anticipation of my inaugural participation, so I mostly listened to what others had to say. I learned from listening to their extempore observations and from their written comments on my manuscript, that they thought that I had some talent as a writer. They found my style somewhat wanting though. The re-writing that was suggested would move the action in the essay I had submitted nearer the opening paragraph, even to become the first sentences that the reader encounters. They suggested that the paragraphs I had submitted could very well serve somewhere close to the first pages of a novel, if the action were moved forward.
At my first opportunity to sit down in my study later that day, I began to unravel my paragraphs to see if I could re-weave them into something with more athletic shape in which a reader might work up a sweat. OK, so it was less than an hour of trying to re-dress my word-loom with the unraveled threads, but it just wouldn’t work. Try as I might, I cannot seem to weave on a tapestry loom when all my experience has been on a jack loom.. The draw-down on my loom patterns is not given to development of characters and plots. There is design in what I weave with words but my artistry is not narrative, it is discursive and descriptive. In a very short time of disassembling the “tromp” of what I’d “writ,” I realized that my genre is that of the essayist, not the novelist.
As an observer who invites my reader to look along my line of sight to see what I see, I hope to be able not so much to excite imagination and adventure as to incite contemplative insight. I do not want my reader to get into the action taking place within my view as I want her to let that action get under her skin. I’d like to evoke an “Aha!” rather than an “Ohh! or an “Ahh!”
In a very short time in the Group and in subsequent reflection, with a good friend upon that experience, I have re-discovered that my purpose and passion for writing is best fulfilled in the somewhat blurred outlines of the vignette and not the 3-D scope of the diorama. Thus suspense is not requisite in my efforts although surprise is welcome. Muscle is as out of place as mystery is necessary in what I put on paper. When I make an observation, periodic action is as secondary as perceptual acuity is essential.
I’ll stick with the genre I know best.