I got a rather cryptic message from one of my brothers yesterday. “27 buzzards” is all it said. Assuming there would be more to follow, I forgot about those old buzzards for a while and went back to recalling this past Saturday’s creative writing workshop in Camden.
Judging from our turnout, the happy faces, and several positive comments and emails, I think it was a successful event. After our local writing group meets to discuss its pluses and minuses next week, I might be singing another song, especially after looking over the evaluation forms that evening.
From today’s perspective, here’s what many seemed to like:
*The facility. Held at the downtown campus of Central Carolina Technical College, the building provided ample classroom space, up-to-date technology, and the perfect layout for moving about and for moments of conversation along the way.
*The setting in the heart of the city was perfect. Two out-of-owners stopped by Friday evening as we were setting up and asked for restaurant recommendations. We offered several in the downtown area, and they opted for Sam Kendall’s located a skip and a hop from the campus.
*The food. We provided lunch prepared by The Everyday Gourmet, and most people seemed pleased with the three choices. While having veggie and gluten-free options might have added more satisfying options for some attendees, we had decided to abide by the KISS principle and Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Throughout the day, we provided fruit, various breads, gluten-free crackers, granola bars and donuts.
*The classes and presenters. Although I haven’t seen the evaluations, the buzz in the hall was good, very good. And get this. A friend emailed me to say she had picked up something in the family history class that changed her life. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Because we felt that learning the craft was important, we chose to focus more on writing “first one word, then another” than on publishing. Telling stories, creating poems, writing memoirs and family histories, and revising one’s work were the topics of the four classes. The keynote speaker, Bob Strother, shared ideas about listening for the story and reminded the writers that stories are virtually everywhere.
*Panel discussion. During lunch, we had a panel discussion on topics ranging from publishing options to the value of critique groups. We were happy that participants had questions, and I particularly enjoyed the responses to inquiries about daily writing routines. One panelist, Kim Blum-Hyclak, reminded the audience that even when she wasn’t sitting at the computer, she was still writing. Ideas can come while folding laundry and mixing salads.
*Helpful hints. Bob Strother talked about using prompts, and while I’m familiar with this process, I’d never considered sharing a prompt with another person until Saturday. Each day someone shares a new prompt with a partner, and by day’s end they report back to each other with what they’ve written. Bob further suggested six-word stories, six-sentence stories, and a variety of other possibilities. There’s no judgment involved, just a way to get the muse mojo going.
Ah, 27 buzzards. Now I get it. That’s a prompt from my brother. Sounds like he got some valuable advice from the workshop. Now let’s see what I can do with his prompt. What would you do with 27 buzzards?