Thursday, November 17, 2011

Riding the Phrog Bus

On Saturday I met in Hot Springs with most of the members of the workshop I led at Wildacres last summer. They were all eager to continue work on their books and had arranged to hire me to critique an additional twenty pages for each of them. For the past month, everyone has read and critiqued everyone else's work to be ready for this day. The group rented a house  for the weekend and we settled in for a long day of work-shopping those pages.

The group calls  themselves The Phrog Bus for reasons arising from silly jokes we shared last summer (you had to be there, trust me.)  Their novels are as diverse as they are -- futuristic, post-apocalyptic thriller, political thriller, traditional mystery, and just plain good stories about interesting people meeting challenges in their lives.

We spent about an hour on each set of pages and, as always happens in these workshops, the input of the group was incredibly useful. If, as a writer, you're particularly attached to something in your own work, it's easy enough to ignore a suggestion from one person. But if the majority of a group have trouble with something you've written, it's time to pay attention -- assuming it's your goal to reach a wide audience and you're not just writing for your own pleasure.
I was also thrilled to find that the writing had tightened up and gotten more focused since last summer. The Phrog Bus -- Dianna, Sharon, Claude, Lourdes, Joni, Rosemarie, and Karen (who took the pictures and, alas, isn't shown here) -- is a hardworking group but they know how to have fun.

We took a quick break for sandwiches and then forged ahead with our work-shopping, bolstered by the knowledge that Rosemarie had a special treat in store for our dinner. That sweet thing had prepared a dinner following a menu from IN A DARK SEASON -- Beef bourguignon, parslied potatoes, a Painter's Salad, and chocolate mousse. 

Rosemary had even brought glass plates from home to serve the salad on -- since that's the way it was described in the book. And the meal was accompanied by Biltmore red wine -- 'a naive little domestic, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption' -- again from the book (though first, let me hasten to add, from a cartoon in the THE NEW YORKER that Elizabeth and I read years ago.)

What a terrific conclusion to a long and rewarding day!

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15 comments:

Ms. A said...

And a good time was had by all.

The male looks like my kids pediatrician, when they were little.

Marilyn said...

What a wonderful workshop, a brilliant way to work together and help each other.

Martin said...

Now, that sounds like time put to good purpose. Here's to the Phrog Bus.

Pat in east TN said...

What an interesting time and the meal sounded amazing!

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

This sounds like a wonderful excursion! What a wonderful teacher they chose!

Brian Miller said...

this is really cool...to have those that are invested to give you feedback is critical...and you are right on listening when more than one points out a passage no matter how dear it is to you...

Deanna said...

Awesome! Any group that would call themselves The Phrog Bus would be my kind of group. The meals sounds as good now as it did in your book.

Suz said...

What a fine group there...and a great meal with a literary touch...who set such a pretty table?
I'd wait for that kind of bus anytime
thanks for sharing

Friko said...

I wish the group I joined would do that kind of work, most are too tender-hearted to do much serious critiquing. And if one of us braver souls says something, the answer is always: well, I'm not after publishing, it's just for my own pleasure.

Thérèse said...

What a nice tour of your productive weekend!

Star said...

Just goes to show what we can achieve when we do things together and if we listen to what others are saying. It's not easy to accept criticism.

Brenda said...

Oh FUN!!! You have a real knack for critiquing, they were wise to hire you.

Anonymous said...

Judging from the fervor expressed here and with others I know,it seems to me that words are alive and well!

Deana the Queena

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Sounds like a fabulous time. I miss the critique sessions I attended a couple of years ago when I was more active in writing. And Boeuf Bourguignon too? It doesn't get any better than that.
Sam

jennyfreckles said...

It's so good to share time with those who share our interests - and this sounds incredibly useful, as well as fun.