Take a group of writers, give them a selection of words, and what do you get?
At the Drabble launch event I attended recently (see previous post Awards versus Rewards), the tables were each covered in a series of slips of paper. Like Fridge Poetry, each slip contained a word (or occasionally a word-ending like “ing”) and could be shuffled around to make sentences, poems or even full drabbles.
Within minutes of arriving, people had drifted towards the tables and were frantically / intently / happily rearranging the words. It broke the ice – people were bonding over the hunt for a verb before they even exchanged names – and it was a lot of fun. Maybe other groups wouldn’t have found it so absorbing, but writers are wordsmiths; playing with words is what we do.
Occasionally, a little squeal would go up – “Gourd! We have to use gourd!” or “Can you have a stoned earwig?” or simply “I need a ‘which’ or a ‘who’!”
The results were funny, “Why are gourds bananas and a kiwi following us”, and profound “Love said little many times never heard” and downright bizarre “always follow your second best pedagogy”. It’s made me think maybe I should invest in some magnetic words to aid my procrastination. Off to www.magneticpoetry.com methinks!
Writing is a strange old profession, because it is both very personal and (hopefully) very public. A lot of writers, whether through choice, laziness or misfortune, write for fun and never reveal their work to anyone, or only to a few family and friends who almost certainly feel duty-bound to be encouraging and positive. A few go a couple of steps further and meet with the opposite effect, receiving endless (infinitely useful but occasionally disheartening) suggestions of change from writing buddies and editors, and piles of rejections from agents and publishers. Only a very limited elite take the process full circle and get positive feedback from disinterested strangers, in the form of publication, massive sales figures and perhaps even royalties.
Last night, I attended the presentation evening at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. It was a small gathering to celebrate the conclusion of their Drabble Contest, in which contestants were asked to write a 100 word story (see my earlier post if you’d like to read one of my entries). The event was a lot of fun, winners were awarded with a small prize, runners up got a mention and a selection of other stories were selected to join these entries in a book which was then available to buy.
As a runner up, there was no Award for me, and no tangible Reward either, but I nevertheless received the Rewards that most writers crave – recognition, understanding, praise – and from someone who has no possible motive to lie or exaggerate. All the books tell you: “Write for yourself!” and there are lots of good reasons behind that which I’ll save for another post. But secretly, we all hope we’re writing for our readers too, so it’s nice when they give us a wave – let us know they are there and that they appreciate something about what we’ve got to say.
One day, hopefully soon, I hope to push myself into an Award – public publication, or a win – but for now I appreciate these rewards when they come. On which note, as ever, comments are very welcome. Feedback – good or bad – is what feeds my writing.
Filed under Awards, Writing