Schedule and Location

Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. We meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Nokomis Fire Station. Coming from Sarasota or North, proceed a few blocks south of Albee Road on US 41 (past Matthews-Currie Ford) to Pavonia Road. Turn right (West, toward the bay) at the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are 2 blocks north of Dona Bay. Turn left onto Pavonia Road at the flashing yellow caution light. At the Fire Station, drive to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room at the far end of the complex. We Gather for a meet and greet at 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten-minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Adjourned: 9:00 pm

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 17th Meeting

Another meeting with excellent attendance. Even though summer is upon us, writers still gather to learn and share.

We began our meeting with introductions, accompanying me were two guests, my wife Betsy, and my neighbor Margie. Bob, returning after an absence of over a year, joined us once again. Welcome to all.

I opened a discussion which touched on Legal and Ethical Issues in Memoir Writing. An attorney, who’d committed to come earlier in the month, was unable to attend due to a last-minute schedule change. We hope he’ll be able to attend a later meeting.

Regardless of the attorney’s absence, we pressed on with our discussion. A longtime group member, Kerri Dieffenwierth, contributed a great piece. Despite being on vacation halfway across the country, she asked that I read it to the group and it was well received. The discussion touched on many aspects encountered when writing a memoir and a major concern quickly came to the fore. How do we deal with horrific happenings in one’s life without causing extreme distress in the family dynamic? The discussion drew opinions from every member of the group. Although we could not conclude anything legally, the opinions were substantial and we did determine, the truth must be told if you want your readers to hear the entire story.

We took a short break as we tabled the discussion and, upon reconvening, we heard from five members wishing to share their work.

Noreen’s poem, Ode to Bally Murphy, a tribute to her village in Ireland where the Murphy clan abides, was well written and touching. The lilt of her voice and the touch of the Gallic gave the listeners the feeling they’d been there.

Don regaled us with the second chapter of his memoir. In this episode, a mere 19-year-old who hadn’t had the opportunity to attend basic training, encounters a situation while on guard duty that is not defined in the manual. The story was beyond amusing, it was downright funny.

A first-time reader, Letitia, shared the introduction to her memoir. It was short but powerful and had listeners wanting more. We hope to hear more in future readings.

A Bishop fleeing persecution in ancient Rome held our attention as Ernie read from his early writings. Unpublished to date, this was a precursor to his published book, The Seventh King. The tale was riveting and gave us a clearer picture of how things once were.

Closing out the evening, Peter shared a sampler of his work. He referred to this collection as Bits and Pieces. Beginning with a letter to an old heartthrob, composed as he treads upon the soil of Africa, he leaves us with the realization he is a true romantic. He followed this with nine poems touching on subjects ranging from a Girl in a Vineyard to the dead, withering under the sun in the deserts of the Sudan. Each piece was powerful, evoking visions in his listener’s mind.

Our evening ended with these images of Ireland, military life, a child’s fear and confusion, the Roman Bishop fleeing into the mountains, and Africa with its splendor and shocking reality ensconced in our minds.

We look forward to June 7th, when we meet again.
Keep on writing!

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Happened Last Meeting? What's In Store for the Next Meeting?

May is here and many of our winter members have already departed for their homes in the north. Thanks to the internet they can still follow what we do here all summer. We strive to continue the quality of meetings throughout the following months.

Our meeting on May 3rd began with a discussion exploring how we come up with ideas for plots and how each of us develops it. The methods were as diverse as this group’s makeup. Some outline, some use specialty software, and others simply wing it.

We heard tales of starting out in one direction and performing an about-face after a few chapters. Some admitted to chucking massive amounts of prose to clarify the plot. We all agree what we envisioned in the beginning is seldom the result.

As we moved into the reading portion of our meeting, Jeff shared a new piece with us chronicling a moment in the life of two strangers meeting at a restaurant while racing inside after being caught a driving rainstorm. The story gets a little dicey when the woman’s blouse is soaked through. Oh well, we look forward to the next installment.

Peter shared an enticing and provoking story about a dog and master whose lives are intertwined with patrons and owner of a sidewalk cafĂ©. A Walk in the Shadows, makes us ask, how well do animals understand their surroundings and masters?

Joe, our in-house humorist, presented his satirical outlook on estrogen. Need to Elucidate highlights incidents involving issues encountered by a woman as she engages in estrogen therapy. Physical and mental discomfort brought on by hot flashes and radical shifts in temperament led to situations shown in a most humorous light.

Don introduced us to the first installment of his memoir, Swords and Plowshares. His story documents memories of over 40 years in the Indiana Air National Guard. From raw recruit to the highest rank an enlisted man can achieve, his memories give us insight into a man dedicated to his job.

Bruce read from the latest in his Dan Marin mystery series. Finding Cloe is the 8th book in the series. The first chapter leaves us wanting more.

Noreen and Doug are the first to read at our next meeting.

I asked, and this week, I received a suggestion for our discussion. In past weeks, most of our discussions appear to have been more relevant for fiction writers than non-fiction or memoirists. So, this week, I propose we discuss some of the legal and ethical issues encountered by the writers who produce creative non-fiction and memoirs.

One question I’m often asked is, “What if I write my memoir and members of my family, or others portrayed in the piece, become upset by what I’ve written, am I in legal trouble?”

I’m not an attorney and therefore cannot answer this question with authority. Has anyone encountered this issue? How was it resolved?

Must you have proof of any statement made in a memoir? If you make an accusation in writing, even if it’s a very private thing, (i.e. sexual abuse by a family member or close acquaintance,) must you have legal proof or have filed charges over the incident(s). What degree of proof is needed?

Non-fiction material often encounters similar issues. A writer puts forth a theory in a paper or publication, others in the field disagree with the writer. One or more of the detractors take umbrage with the statements and publicly attempt to discredit the writer for breaching the subject and demand published proof. Another claims the writer purloined the idea, impinging on an opportunity to publish a paper in the future.

What liabilities are encountered in these situations? If theories are advanced, are the same rules in effect as when making a statement of fact?

Join us on Wednesday, May 17th to hear writer’s express their opinions and share experiences.