We had a great dialogue about our format at the Wednesday meeting of the Sarasota chapter of the Florida Writers Association. We decided to continue just enjoying whatever each meeting evolves into, although the readings will continue to be the main focus of the meetings. We have readings by members at each meeting who usually read their own material, but often they read passages from favorite works or books of one particular favorite author or genre. Friendly reviews and even serious critiques usually follow each reading, and often we run out of time before we run out of readers. That format fits the wants of most members, and it is flexible enough to allow us to invite Hayward Hawkins to address the group sometime in the near future. Rod DiGruttolo did his usual great job of directing the group and we decided to allow anyone who didn't get to read at a meeting to go to the front of the list for the next meeting.
At Wednesday's meeting we welcomed newcomer Bob Dombrowski, retired firefighter from Detroit, and returning snowbird, or sunbird, depending on your point of view, Lois Stern. Bob has 38 years of great pent-up stories just waiting for an audience.
After twenty or so minutes of catching up and discussing the state of writing, we opened the floor and started with a reading by Rod, who had graciously passed on reading since last October or so. It was worth the wait. The Spaghetti Blight was a funny, 250 word work that captured everyone. Susan Davis read her short story based on Stephen King's On Writing exercise, “Action News at Three.” A great and worthy interpretation of the challenge from the Master himself that kept everyone glued to the story. Having an “FM” voice certainly doesn't detract from the story, either.
Ed Ellis read a humorous piece about close friends ribbing each other called “Blinders,” and the poignant response from the dear friend being ribbed. No critiques here, just thoughtful appreciation. Robin Thompson, who wrote at one time for comedienne Lily Tomlin, read her untitled piece, which I have dubbed “How can Robin be Dead?” A reflective piece about the finality of life and the inevitability of the passage of time, interspersed with humor and grace.
George Mindling read his interpretation of the Stephen King challenge, initially watching for eyes to glaze over. It didn't matter, he finished it anyway, another first attempt at writing for fun instead of doing technical or non-fiction work. That is what our group is about, writing for the sake of enjoyment and entertainment, and every piece is an expansion of that ability. Another short discussion followed, mainly about the use of punctuation in quotations.
Joanne Phillips read a great bit of short prose called “The Dog Days of August,” followed by two humorous short poems: “Dead Muse” and “I'm Little, You're a Lot!” Peter Frickel then read a series of somewhat gripping, but entertaining pieces beginning with “Silent Like A Soldier,” followed by “Banana,” “He Drank Like A Swan,” and a great piece about Vineyards. Several Haikus followed, and once again it was 9:00pm. A fast, entertaining evening, including a break with Bill Elam expanding everyone's horizons with his extraordinary knowledge about the origin of words we take for granted.
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, as a crime in the British court system, has now been added to my meager pool of knowledge about the words I use on a daily basis. Next meeting will be the 1st of February. See you then.