Summer 2016 Writing Group Wrapped Up!

This summer’s online writing group has officially finished up! We had a solid eight weeks, and although some of us didn’t always meet our weekly goals (me — primarily me), we kept each other accountable, wrote, and shared our progress.

Inspired by Anne H., I’m including a couple of new things for our wrap-up post. In addition to asking for each writer’s final progress report, I asked them all to contribute the first or last line of their work-in-progress, and a picture of their writing space. Anne suggested this, since we’d talked about writing spaces a couple of times over our session, and she’d recently contributed a guest post about writing and driving. I loved her idea, and now you all get to see our writing spaces!

Alena

I wrote and proofread a poem this week that I’m completely in love with. I feel it is publication-ready. I also went back and proofread the short story I finished last week. All in all, it has been a productive last week and a productive last eight weeks! I definitely wouldn’t have written as much as I did this summer if it weren’t for this group’s deadlines and advice. I’ll miss the extra nudge. Thank you, everyone!
 
I would have included a picture of my workspace, but I kind of write all over the place, always with a notebook or laptop in hand. Here are the first lines of the four things I’ve been working on this summer:
 
First line of “Two Bakas”:
Your grandmother has a Facebook.
 
First line of “Darkblooms”:
Warm blood trickled down my face.

First line of “Conscious”:
The happiness hurts.
 
First line of “Ékleipsis”:
She needs somewhere to sleep, something to eat.

Anne D.

This summer was once again too busy for me to accomplish much. I only recently got a car and was able to go to the library if needed. To make a long story short I may have a magazine decided on and will go from there.

Anne H.

These are the last two lines of my short something “Midnight Blindspot in a Rear View Mirror.”  That title comes from the musical composition composed in my honor on the occasion of my college graduation. A friend commissioned it from another friend who has since had quite a good career as a composer. My favorite part was always the title; I’ve never even heard the piece.

I find myself reflecting lately on middle age. That’s what the Prince short something was about, and that’s what this short something is about as well.

Last two lines:

The midnight blind spot is not a black hole which will engulf me;  it is in the rearview mirror
And I power forth

Final report:

I only wrote 1.5 short somethings and 1 guest blog post. But without the encouragement of this group, I doubt that I would have written anything whatever. So, thank you, Laura. I look forward to your next group.

Anne's Writing Space

Anne’s Writing Space

Bev

I have revised eleven of fifteen chapters of my memoir, so far cutting 50,104 words. I am 23,100 words short of my goal of getting the damned thing down to 90K, which an agent told me was the customary maximum for a memoir. And yes, I do have the word counts for each chapter on a spread sheet. I am a geek.

I really, really want to get this thing done before classes start, but it’s hard to find time when the harvest starts. I’ll keep trying, though. I can’t seem to sleep past 5:00 these days. I’ve been getting up and writing until the dew is off the grass. I did accomplish my goal of posting on my blog at least weekly and got one letter in the mail to my readers.

First line:

“I’m taking the job in North Dakota,” I announced while having lunch with the girls at a Thai restaurant in Greektown.

Below are photos of formal and casual work spaces. I have been working mostly in the casual space this summer. The formal space hasn’t gotten messed up since the cleaning ladies were here last week.

Bev's Writing Spaces

Bev’s Writing Spaces

Donna

I know what my dilemma is — I don’t check this email on weekends. I don’t have a designated writing space. My notebook is at home, so I can’t send a first line. Excuses aside, I did THINK about writing frequently over the past two weeks, and have thought of my main character’s name and a tentative outline.

Katherine

I made great progress this summer, and the weekly goals kept me on track and focused. I have currently what I would consider a finished draft of a memoir, almost 37,000 words.

I couldn’t just send the last line… so here are the last three:

Avery is my reason for doing all that I do and all that I should do. Being a mother makes me want to be a better person. I have reevaluated the way I have been living and the people I have surrounded myself with in an effort to make better choices for her and to set a better example for her.

Below is a picture of my work space. I am either writing on the couch near Elmo or some other kid toy or at the kitchen table.

Thanks, all, for a great writing summer.

Katherine's Writing Space

Katherine’s Writing Space

Laura

I didn’t get nearly what I’d hoped to accomplish this summer, but thanks to the group, I had to think about writing, write about writing, and actually do some writing, so thank you, group!

First line:

Mary and her dog, Bubs, walked past the white house with the pillars and the twice-a-week gardener, past what she thought of as the “party house” because it filled the block with the sound of children playing and splashing in the backyard pool from May until mid-September, and past Chico’s house, although Chico—a black Chihuahua who was in a constant state of near-fear at Bubs though still chased him into the street whenever he got the chance—didn’t seem to be home.

My Writing Space

My Writing Space

Lisa

Again, I’m so happy to have been a part of the group! It really does keep me on track. I definitely got more done than I would have otherwise. Thanks!!!

Opening:
This was finally one of those things; something Cal couldn’t have possibly had the foresight to tell her, couldn’t possibly have warned her about.

Ending:
“No, we just buried it in the yard.” He turned towards her and leaned up on his elbow. In the bit of light that filtered in from the kitchen, she saw him raise an eyebrow at her. “What kind of people do you think we are, Nay?”

Lisa's Writing Space

Lisa’s Writing Space

Matt

What can I say? I still haven’t quite made it through this last pass on my story. It’s been a hell of a busy week. But I have made progress, and overall, the work I’ve done since this group began has been pretty satisfying. This is the best it has ever been (which is a claim of dubious quality, since you don’t know what it was before.) Anyway, the changes are getting smaller, more pointed. I feel the story has attained more or less its final shape, which is a grand accomplishment that I am prepared to enjoy until I decide I was wrong in a couple of weeks.

This is the first line of The Liminal Man:

At least if you get your legs chopped off, you know for sure that your life is going to be different from now on.

Mike

I definitely didn’t accomplish what I expected over the eight weeks, but I’m happy with what I have gotten done. I didn’t touch the novel-in-progress, which was my original goal, but I’m pleased that I was able to objectively realize how much work my short story still needed.

My previous round of revisions cut away a lot of unnecessary pages that I’d left in for far too long. Reading the story without them these eight weeks reinforced those were the right cuts to make, but I did further tightening and wrote (from scratch in most cases) the story again with better connective material. There’s a flow now that was missing in some parts, and I’ve reconsidered a few large plot points and incorporated them into the latest version (which is still not finished, but I see a better finished product on the horizon).

The first lines of the story are:

The first time Tyler’s head hit up against the passenger window, it was an accident. But because he didn’t wake up, and we had a good twenty minutes to go till we reached the airport, it turned into a game. And I was a little pissed he’d been asleep since we left our driveway; he didn’t know yet that I was coming on the plane with him.

Below is a picture of my home office, where I’ve been doing 90% of my work (aside from when I find a spot to write a page or so in my actual work office or on my train commute). As much as I love our new house (as of March), the office is the best addition for me.

Mike's Writing Space

Mike’s Writing Space

Robert

Final report: 8,528 words written. Novel still incomplete.

First line:

He seemed, in a crowded room, a ship with a damaged rudder, or with torn sails.

Rosalie

My next project is to file all of the resources I used.

First line:

European countries are amazingly diverse despite the fact that they are bound by close geographic connections. This mosaic of cultures is reflected in the art and history of Europe.

Rosalie's Writing Space

Rosalie’s Writing Space

Thank you, participants, for sharing your time, efforts, work, and spaces with us!

I really enjoyed this summer’s group; it gave me a bit of structure and kept me from straight-binge-watching three seasons of Veronica Mars and then every single thing in my Netflix queue, even those dozen foreign films I’ve had in there for five years and always mean to watch but never get around to (You think I’m kidding. I’m not. Watching twelve hours of television every day is literally the only thing I would have done this summer if not for the group. I thank you. My husband thanks you. My dog thanks you.)

I’ll be running another four-week winter session in January, 2017, and I hope you’ll all consider joining. It’ll be a nice mental work-out for our post holiday-season brains.

And of course, please continue to read my regular blog posts, which will come less frequently when I don’t have twelve people to answer to, and which will 99% of the time feature my dog. So, clearly, you’ll be really excited about that.

Have a terrific last few weeks of the summer, all, and, as usual, write on!

Roo on a Tube

Who wouldn’t want to read about this dog? She’s in a tube! A tube!

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