Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kepler's Writing Group May 31, 2009 Meeting

Kepler's May Writing Group meeting is on Sunday, May 31st from 3-5:30 p.m. at Aggie's house in San Jose, or more precisely, Aggie's backyard. She looks forward to our outdoor get together next Sunday and, per Terry's request, assures all that no one will be asked to weed her lovely garden.

Todd's Notes on the Kepler’s Writing Group April Meeting:

My past several visits to the Kepler’s writing group have reminded me of what I miss most from my courses as a graduate student of literature and composition: learning how to better evaluate and interpret writing through the disparate perspectives of other students. Their perspectives, more often than not, deepened my appreciation and understanding of our assigned texts.

This lesson resurfaced its way throughout the course of our last writing workshop, where we focused on three works of composition. For instance, in response to Bob’s Vietnam story, several readers implied that his main character needed to reveal more of an interior self (even if it did seem somewhat embarrassing). To build a stronger sense of interiority for this character, Aggie suggested the technique of developing main characters so that new aspects of their selves evolve on “each page” of their narratives.

Easier said than done…for this technique may seem simple but is actually quite complex. At any rate, it made me think about the importance of this technique given the compressed nature of an effective short story. A short story, like a poem, must be compressed so that neither too much nor too little information is given. Selection and compression is the key, as the short story writer Frank O’Connor would say.

This is the main reason the discussion on Aggie’s story (“Eva’s Room”) appealed to me. The title of her story, in itself, creates a fairly narrow scope in which the interior life of Eva is explored. The character reveals herself, as one reader most aptly implied, through the way she relates to the sensual world of her room and its objects (including her friends).

Such commentary and interpretations, more importantly, were generated in the context of the story being discussed. The process, then, of how insights are generated is the primary reason that writing groups are invaluable; for instance, during our discussion of the third story, Jeanne discussed why one of its central events (the moment when the main character decides to purchase an expensive painting) affected her. Her response, in turn, enabled me to articulate the reason the same event affected me—in that it made me realize how this event (and the painting itself) symbolically structures the story in an important way.

Articulating an interpretation for a story is rarely easy—but it often becomes easier—and much more enjoyable—in the company of other readers and writers—and this is why I look forward to the next workshop for the Kepler’s writing group.

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