It’s done! Cheers, Dears. Yep, we “put the baby to bed” last week, the baby being the anthology that our local writers’ group has been working on since January. Were there trials? Yes. Was it hard work? Another yes. Would we do it again if we knew then what we know now? A resounding yes.
The seed for Serving Up Memory was planted last October at.the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop’s (SCWW) annual conference in Columbia. In addition to soaking up some good information in the sessions I attended, I also chatted with Steve Gordy, a member of the Aiken Chapter of SCWW, and gained some inspiration for a writing project.
Steve was quite enthusiastic about a book his writing group, The Aiken Scribblers, had created and published. As soon as he showed me the cover of Nights of Horseplay, I knew I had to have a copy of this fascinating collection of stories compiled by the group. From Amazon: You say you don’t believe in magic? Then come along with us and you’ll find yourself in a place where magical experiences are a part of the fabric of life.
Lucky for me, Steve just happened to have a few copies for sale at the conference, and as I thumbed through one, I became intrigued with the idea of the Camden group producing its own book. I asked Steve a number of questions to which he graciously replied, and while chatting with him, I began to think, “We can do this.”
Steve promised to be of assistance if we decided to tackle the project, and with that promise in mind, I approached the group with the idea. It was November by this time, and everyone was busy with seasonal activities and disinclined to even think about putting a book together. Unwilling to let the idea die, I brought it up again, and soon we met for a brainstorming session one Saturday morning at Kathryn’s house.
Kathryn was familiar with the Foxfire books that originated with a high school teacher’s writing assignment, and she suggested that we look into that approach. Other people suggested a book of holiday memories. And then the artist of the group suggested inserting photographs. Before we went our separate ways that chilly day, we were unsure of our specific focus, and yet we were united in our desire to just do it.
Submissions for our book began to appear during the spring, and we set early August as the deadline for manuscripts. As work flowed in and members critiqued one another’s work, we saw a pattern developing. Many of the stories had to do with hearth and home, the ties that bind. Most stories took place in the South, but one took place in Germany and continued to live in the heart of the Camdenite who wrote about it.
A Saturday in September brought the group back to Kathryn’s house to consider organization of contents, set up a strict timeline for completion, and choose a title. That day, Laura and I divided the manuscript into four chapters; a few days later Kathryn and I revised it into six. After choosing the contents for each chapter, we then decided it would be a nice touch to have an opening photograph with each chapter title. And why not a quote too?
The gun went off, and the race to meet a specific deadline was on. I felt excited, nervous, and a little whelmed—not overwhelmed yet, just whelmed. As the days turned into weeks, there were moments when I wondered why I had introduced the idea. But then I’d read something that a writer had submitted and think, “This is a story that needs to be told.”
I’ve read that 500 words is tops for a blog post, and since I’ve already crossed that line, I’m reluctantly ending this tale for today. I’ll continue the group’s march towards publication tomorrow, and hopefully, you’ll be inspired to create your own book.