Next Meeting: Tuesday, 10 January @ 19:00

Happy New Year!

For our first meeting of 2023, perhaps we should talk about beginnings. First sentences. First paragraphs. First pages. Exposition.

So yes, let’s!

As usual, our meeting will take place online. The link will be posted to our Telegram group about an hour before the meeting starts. Should you require the link some other way, please let us know, and we’ll make sure you get it!

See you then!

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Winter Reading

Our Winter Reading this year is on Saturday 03. December at 3pm.

The meeting will be held in Freiburg at the home of one of our members, therefore, if you would like to attend please send an email to freiburgwritersgroup@gmail.com, and we will respond with a flyer containing the address of the event.

8 Novemeber Zoom Meeting



Writing Does Writing.

Getting out of our way can be the hardest lesson for a writer to learn. It sounds simple: sit down, write.
Any yet, how often do we sit in front a blank page and stall, do the laundry, vacuum, watch old re-runs, while behind us that pristine page follows us around, and around?
We are often so full of our own editor, of rules taught to us by teachers, that to sit down and ‘just write’ trips over a roadblock of shoulds, coulds and woulds.

To write for the sake of putting pen to paper, to exercise just writing, to fall in love with the joy of the flow of words, this is a present that lies ready to be unwrapped.

Writing Does Writing can be called prompt writing, spontaneous writing, Goldberg’s Wild Mind writing, or just writing.
The rules are basic.
*Write with pen and paper, this engages a different less analytic part of the brain(so studies indicate)
*Keep the hand moving…if there are no words, repeat the last one, write ‘shit’ if you have to, draw doodles, but keep the hand moving.
*Let go of the editor, give him/her/ they a coffee and tell them to sit in another room. There is no need for grammar, spelling, outlines, just keep writing whatever comes.
*Allow yourself to write the first thing that comes to mind, go for the gusto, be free to let go of inhibitions
*give yourself permission to write crap, to push the bounds of freedom
*And above all, don’t throw yourself away. You are worth this time, your writing is worth this time.
*Have fun.

You’ll be given a prompt. Just use it to jump off, you don’t have to stick to the prompt. If you start off with red balloons and end up with mountains no worries, great even!

At the end of the writing time those who wish to can read their writing. There will be no crosstalk or comments. Thank you is good enough. Then the next person reads.

****************

Tuesday’s prompts were:


Why I ran away from the circus…

What I didn’t know or what I never knew…

******

We talked a bit about how to have a daily writing practice, a few tips just to write, even 10 minutes a day.
*pick a line from a book, or poem,
*What is ____-   Where is ____Fill in an emotion or action


*Have a list. Maybe use a seesion to write a few down.
Things like.
What I noticed yesterday.
What I know
What I learned last week
On public transport



A few minutes of free writing/ writing does writing a day, is like exercising. The more you do it the easier it gets, until who knows, you may actually enjoy it J

*

Then I read


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.                        
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver
From: Devotions

We talked about how this made us feel, not think, feel. Not the mechanics of the poem, but the emotion is brought.
Then we wrote from the prompt:
Not tossing yourself away.

******
Personally, I really enjoyed hearing people reading. It is my favorite part of these workshops. The variety on the theme is always a surprise. I felt inspired to keep this practice going and to give myself the permission to just write and laugh, cry and be astonished.

I want to thank each and every one of you there for jumping in with me, for being so willing to give it a try.

Here is another poem I have been using to jump into Writing does Writing.
I hope you enjoy it!

Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

– Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems

Tuesday, 08 November, 2022: Our Next Meeting

As the title states, our next online meeting will take place on Tuesday, 08 November @ 19:00 on Jitsi. The link to the meeting will be posted to our Telegram group about an hour before the meeting starts. If you want to join us, but don’t want to join Telegram, please send us an email, and we’ll get you hooked up to the juice.

“Hooked up to the juice.” That’s a strange and silly thing to say.

At the meeting, we’ll be discussing the details of our Winter Reading, as well as writing some writing and discussing that writing. As ever, the floor (such as it is) is always open to questions, comments, complaints, and suggestions.

We hope to see you there!

Notes on last week’s meeting

I just wrote what I thought was a really very nice post about last week’s meeting. And then I lost all of it through a combination of technical difficulties and stupidity.

It mentioned that we chose a date for our Winter Reading: Saturday, 03 December @ 15:00.

It recapped our discussion of liminality nicely, and used phrases like in medias res and words like enjambment. It linked to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary website and an article at Forbes. It had several lists.

Now it’s gone, and I suppose it would be poetic if it weren’t so frustrating.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022: Our next meeting

As the title states, our next meeting will be next Tuesday, 11 October 2022 at 19:00 and on Jitsi.

It’s October, and I’m wondering if I, despite the fact that I’m still plodding through Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, should reread Laird Hunt’s novel about witches (?) In the House in the Dark of the Woods. It’s a good slim volume for the so-called spooky season, especially if you would prefer to enjoy said season in a somewhat less than traditional (or–wait–somehow more than very traditional) fashion. And that’s what I love about Hunt’s work: Is it A or is it B or is it both or is it neither?

Why don’t we, at our next meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, 11 October 2022 at 19:00 on Jisti, talk about the liminal, which is where most horror comes from.

Why don’t we also talk about how we would like to see each other in person this quarter. Traditionally, we have had a Christmas Reading. We could most certainly do that again (the question is where?), or we could do something else!

I look forward to seeing you in a week!

Meeting Wrap-Up from 13 Sept. 22

At our last meeting, as advertised, we discussed three different idea generators and then put them to use.

The three generators (each a deck of cards) discussed were:

The task was then this: Take the following, very short story by Lydia Davis, and rewrite/revise it using the information given to you by a random card from one of the three generators.

Here’s the story by Lydia Davis:

The Outing

An outburst of anger near the road, a refusal to speak on the path, a silence in the pine woods, a silence across the old railroad bridge, an attempt to be friendly in the water, a refusal to end the argument on the flat stones, a cry of anger on the steep bank of dirt, a weeping among the bushes.

I chose a random card from Oblique Strategies:


I considered the fact that the Davis story has very few adjectives or adverbs (five of the former, one of the latter), and therefore very little decoration. So I went about adding some: Every time I got to the end of the story, I went back to the beginning and inserted more. I kept this up (like everyone else) for 20 minutes.

Here is what I wrote (with apologies to Lydia Davis):

The Badly Qualified Outing

A smallish outburst of really brutal, childlike anger near the dry, dusty road which curved menacingly over a hill; an outright refusal to speak candidly on or even about the smooth path, which was perpendicular to the road and its menace; a knife-like, penetrating silence in the pines in the pines where the sun never shines and you shiver when the cold wind blows; a withering silence across the old, rusty railroad bridge where a long-dormant acrophobia was awaked and experienced as if for the first time; a halfhearted attempt to be friendly in a dirty way in the dirty water; a limpid refusal to end the ongoing and obviously futile argument on the flat, wet stones near the bank, which was parallel to the road and its menace; a wrenched cry of even realer anger and possibly even pain on the steep bank of slick, black, slimy, wet dirt; a bitter weeping among the blackberry bushes, perhaps less for the argument than for the multitude of pricks (so maybe yes also for the argument, and its instigator (the prick)).


Another group member, David, received this card:


and wrote this:

It escalated quickly, the convict, haggard and weary from days on the run faced the powerful, strong farm labourer.
More crying from the bushes.
The convict lurched forward, his eyes fixed on the farmer.
“I need to eat boy, and I need companionship” he snarled.
The farmer felt uncertain, he might be strong but was no fighter. He shifted the weight on his feet and angled his shoulder towards his opponent.
“You leave these Lands now, ya here me!, Off with ya. You’ll find no food or companionship here.” the strong words were betrayed by a quavering in his voice.
The convict snarled and rushed forward plunging all his weight against the Farmers chest while quickly slipping a foot behind his ankle.
The farmer lurched backward and landed clumsily on his arse. His arms raised to protect his face.
They stared at each other. The convict had drawn a short blade and kneeled before the farmer, the edge placed against his neck.
The whimpering from the bushes had stopped. Lost in his own rage the convict had not noticed.
Too late, he realised what the sound was, a rushing of feet on grass and as he turned, the branch came down hard on his forehead. The convict crumpled, the blade dropped from his hand and blood began to seep from the wide gash that had formed.
“Companionship? Fuck you!” spat a girl of about 15 with dark hair and fierce eyes. She turned on the Farmer, her chest heaving with the exertion of running and swinging the heavy club.
“And?” she glared at him. “What was that then!” The farmer looked down, he couldn’t meet her eyes, his face reddened with shame.
“Twice your age and half your size, and he flattens you in one go?” she smirked cruelly. Then turned to the unconscious man laying on the ground between., raised the cudgel once more and brought it down swiftly, cracking his skull.
“Come on, we’ll be late for the fair”…

If other members of the group send me what card they had and what they wrote, I will happily add it here!

Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, 11 October @ 19:00. See you then!

Next Meeting: Tuesday 13 Sept. @ 19:00

Hello dear friends!

I’m a little slow this month for various reasons, but still wanted to try and remind you of our upcoming meeting with enough time for you to prepare!

As stated in the title, our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, 13 September @ 19:00 on Jitsi. At that meeting, I would like to discuss a form of progress/revision (using those two words with a slash between them suggests the question, where does revision start? This question will also be on the table for discussion.).

When we get stuck, when we don’t know what to do next, when we’ve come to a crossroad in our writing and don’t know which way to go, how do we proceed? In a group such as this one, the obvious answer is to ask another member for help, but what if we’re not ready to do that just yet? And what if the person we’ve asked draws a blank similar to our own?

Over the last year or so, I’ve been doing some thinking about (and a small amount of research into) using various random idea generators (see also: sets and/or collections of symbols) to move my thinking and my working from a place of stasis into a place of movement.

Next week, instead of taking a prompt from the Kiteley for our writing time, I would like to look at a very short story together, give each of you a prompt from one of these random idea generators (after briefly introducing you to said generators), and then use the standard 15-20 minutes of writing time to apply those ideas to your own rewrite of the short story we looked at.

I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday! Any questions you might have can be directed to our email or our telegram group.

Summer Reading (23 July)!

The Freiburg Writers’ Group is happy to hold its Summer Reading on 23 July at 17:00 at the wonderful Café POW!

Members of the group will read short pieces or excerpts of their own works, 4-7 minutes in length, for the delight, enjoyment, and literary nourishment of the listeners. Throughout the reading, guests will also be able to enjoy the treats of Café POW including food, beverages, and of course the relaxed atmosphere of its inner courtyard. 

Join us, and bring your literature-enthusiastic friends! 

Notes on our 14 June Meeting

I wanted to talk about how we figure out what we’re doing/where we’re going when we have a (loosely) defined project that needs to (somehow) move forward.

I found exercise #200 in Brian Kiteley’s 3 a.m. Epiphany: Q and A: “Write a fragment about something in your [piece] that bothers you like a bad tooth. Write this in the form of twenty questions and answers. . . .”

We wrote questions for ourselves for our various (in progress) projects. We then discussed the projects and the questions we wrote. It was a very lively and very fruitful conversation!

Several people were kind enough to send me the questions they wrote. They are collected below (in random order and ever-so-gently edited). Several of the questions are very specific to the projects about which they were asked, but I like to think that the questions in this list, despite their sometimes specificity, could be used to open a door or two in your brain when you’re writing and find yourself at an impasse–not unlike Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies.

  • Do you intend to ever finish this project?
  • Are you providing enough detail about the characters and their environments to spark the imagination of the reader?
  • At what point will the story end?
  • How much of the previous generation (uncles) should I include?
  • I am sure that I have a story to tell, why am I struggling to take the time to write more?
  • The main character’s life, on the surface, does not seem that interesting or dramatic. What exactly about the character do you think will resonate with readers?
  • Should you pick/plan XYZ number of time periods, à la Here, from which/with which to work (within chapters)?
  • Can I stand alone with this if friends and family walk away?
  • Is it too singular based?
  • Am I writing to be clever, to show case just how smart I am?
  • Why is the main character so angry? Have you addressed this clearly enough?
  • How much more reading do you want to do before you start writing?
  • Where’s my ego involvement?
  • Is it worth the stress and worry?
  • Should I use real names? In particular would it be better to mention the officers of higher rank just with their initials? Could I be sued by decedents of some of these officers?
  • Why does the main character abandon his friends in his twenties? His motives are not clear.
  • Am I too attached to my idea of how this needs to speak?
  • Am I writing to be understood?
  • Am I replicating tropes, formulas, or stereotypes in an annoying way?
  • Can I change larger sections without emotional kickback?
  • Is it too sentimental? If so: does it work? or can I get rid of it without a large change in the voice?
  • Is it self-indulgent?
  • Are you convinced of the structure you’ve already set up for yourself?
  • Or should each chapter focus on one story and its implications through time?
  • How do you intend to link the anecdotes and snippets into a cohesive whole?
  • What are the work’s literary ancestors?
  • Who am I going to piss off in my life?
  • Do you want to first write, find out what stories organically present themselves, and then write those?
  • Why can’t I write more comedy?
  • Or should each chapter be its own time period/story?
  • Is there a political or social message?
  • Am I writing to be witnessed?
  • What is your true motivation for writing these stories?
  • Should I write it in German or English or both languages?
  • How about the scenic background? Theodor Fontane published extensive descriptions of one of the areas they lived in, this could be useful.
  • What does “indeterminate place” mean for the writing?
  • Am I okay when none of this happens?
  • Are you willing to make friends and family uncomfortable and maybe even upset or angry when they read these stories?
  • How would you like your readers to respond to the main character? Sympathy? Disgust? Pity? Etc.
  • Am I writing for redemption?
  • How do I describe the main character, Hélène? Is she really as meek as her husband describes her or should I add a touch of Kate Chopin?
  • What would the different characters tell each other? For example, would Hélène’s father-in-law tell her about his smuggling activities during his formation knowing that her father is a custom’s official in the Prussian State?
  • Are you convinced of your idea about meandering sentences/paragraphs/chapters?
  • Are you finding a good balance between concise writing and providing enough context and background?
  • Can I be vulnerable like Brene Brown?
  • What will my family say?
  • Does this spark joy?
  • What does “indeterminate” (“place”) mean for the writing?
  • Are you prepared to use real names? Is that fair?
  • Is adherence to the facts even possible? Memories are notoriously unreliable as records of history. Am I somehow betraying myself if I embellish the stories?
  • Why do I write so much [auto]biographical fiction?
  • What story/stories do you want to tell?
  • Am I writing to help create understanding and or compassion?
  • If I am not writing to help create understanding or compassion, and it’s ego, or wanting to prove something do I have the awareness and depth of practice to let it go? Even if it means shelving the project?
  • In terms of setting, is it very specific, or very vague?
  • Are you prepared to make yourself extremely vulnerable by exposing some very uncomfortable and unpleasant aspects of the main character? Would this transparency benefit the stories?
  • Can I take it apart and rearrange the narrative?

Please feel free to send me your own questions, and I’ll add them to the list!

And finally, here’s a quick reminder that our annual Summer Reading will be held on Saturday, 23 July @17:00 in the ever-lovely Cafe POW! There will be a bigger announcement soon!