February 20th 2005

Today we held the February 2005 meeting of the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. Present were: Sharon, LuAnne, Russ, Jerry and Anne. The next meeting will be on Sunday, March 20, 2005 at Beagle Books in Park Rapids from 1:30 to 4 PM.

We need to remember that we are scheduled to read at the PR Library for the Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning on Tuesday March 22 from 1 to 2:30 PM. We need to be thinking about what we want to read. We can touch base with each other at the March 20 meeting. We also will take some of our TS books to sell.

We have already received information on the 2005 Hackensack Arts Festival. They decided that the writers part of it was a great success. More on that when we have more information.

We have a submission deadline of May 1. We have already started receiving submissions.

This is being planned for Saturday, August 6. We have rented the Hubbard Hall and the Long Lake Theater in Hubbard.

We have one workshop planned for March 19 with Florence Witkop. There are two more in the planning stages.

There are two poetry workshops at the Detroit Lakes Library on Tuesday March 8 and Tuesday March 22 from 7 to 9 PM. Call 1-218-847-2168 for information or to sign up.

Michael Perry, who wrote Population 485, will be in Walker. On Thursday, March 17 at 5PM, he will have a book signing at the Walker Library. On Friday, March 18 at 7 PM, he will do a reading at the Walker High School.

Jerry Mevissen has been chosen as one of 30 writers at the Bloomington Writers’ Festival. There will be workshops and panel discussion. This is Saturday March 5 form 11:45 AM to 4 PM. For more information, call 1-952-835-5277 Kate Pettit.

Jerry will be attending the arts council meeting next week. This newly formed council consists of local theaters, museums, art groups, etc. This would be very good for us to belong to. More information after the meeting.

Will Weaver sent us some very helpful writing tips.
1. First, there’s no “trick”, no formula for getting published — but two things make the difference. Most importantly, your material (poem, short story, whatever) must be honestly heartfelt — must have personal importance to you. This often means writing about things, issues, problems, etc. that most people would let lie. Thoughts that most people would never say aloud. Writing this kind of material means breaking through the censor inside all of us: our instinct to be a nice person and fit in with our family, friends, church group etc. I do not mean here that we should be about exposing our deepest darkest secrets all the time; what I am saying, is that we can give some of those issues and secrets to a fictional character, or to a poem, and that personal intersection will empower the writing. It will also help us finish what we’re writing, which is no small matter. Call this the “energy of personal intersection.” Example: Say we have elderly aunt whose life could have been so much more, and we have always felt badly about how things turned out for her. Why not use her, altered for fictional purposes, in a story, in a novel. She could even be the heroine of a romance novel, and our personal intersection will still be there…
2. My second point is simple: revision, revision, revision. Every page of a novel I write has been gone over 15-20 times, sometimes more. You hear this advice all the time. However, another important thing for emerging writers is to find a published writer who “speaks” to you — whose writing you greatly admire — and lay your page alongside his or hers. Closely compare the writing. How is that writer’s prose different (better than) mine? What are her sentences doing that mine are not? This is very important, this visual comparison, in that it gives you fresh look at your writing style. This close compare/contrast was very helpful to me in the past.

Most of the writers present read something that they have been working on. Anne brought a screenplay. Jerry read a story he had written for his current writing class. We had no time for writing exercises today, but we have some that we will use next time.