Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Thursday, 11 September 2003

Due to a bit of careless scheduling, I had both a dentist and a doctor appointment yesterday. My teeth are fine. The rest of me is fine.

The doctor ran through a list of questions about symptoms that I might have that would suggest some sort of follow-up was in order. I've answered the like before, but something about the order of these seemed odd--ordinary symptoms mixed with really dangerous things: "Do you have headaches? Heartburn? Blackouts?" I had to laugh out loud at that one. If I have a headache or heartburn I'm not going to go to the doctor unless it starts being severe or frequent, but believe me--just one blackout would send me right to the doctor. I wouldn't be waiting around thinking, "Well, if this starts happening every day, I'll definitely want to see someone about it."

I went to a reading today, the first in a series of readings by the students of the MFA program here. (That link worked this morning, but seems to be broken now.) It was a lot of fun. I chatted with a few of the writers who weren't reading today. They all seemed pretty approachable.

The MC indicated that they have a pattern of a fiction writer and two poets for each event. Rob McCarthy read a hilarious piece about man whose priest has convinced him to date a pretty woman who has four kids. Joe Ledoux and Kate Maurer each read some of their poems. Kate had one fabulous poem. I didn't recognize the form so I didn't remember the name, but a quick web search reminds me that it was a pantoum. The audience clearly liked that one as well and her face showed that she was surprised and pleased for that one to be so well appreciated. Joe's work was mostly funny but also moving and not diminished at all by the fact that his introductory bits before the poems were perhaps even funnier than the poems. He read a love poem about a woman who had bought a book on how to make quilts and then made him a quilt. "If a woman bought a book and made a quilt for you, you'd still be with her, right? And not writing poems about her instead."

The event is held on the second Thursday of each month. I'll have to make a point of attending future ones.

Critiquers have commented from time to time that many of my characters are a lot like me. There's some truth to that, but I've had characters who are driven and those who are slackers, characters who are skilled and those who are not, characters who are loners and those who have families. So, I'm not inclined to worry about it much. Still, I think I'll go through the exercise of writing about a couple of characters who are nothing like me. I seem to need something to kick-start a new story, and maybe this will help.

I think one character not much like me but that I'll be able to write will be a character of faith. If you really think scripture is the revealed word of god, then following it absolutely is perfectly understandable. At least, I think I understand it. So, a character of faith. I'm not sure about the other one. Writing about someone who's mean would be different, but hard, because I don't really understand people who are mean. Maybe some narrow category of mean--vindictive, perhaps, or a guy who needs to one-up people. I think I understand the motivations behind people like that.

I think I'll write a pantoum.


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