Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friction and Gravity

I have been in search of a writers’ group, full of people of like mind, similar writing goals, happy to talk plot, reluctant to talk mental illnesses (their own or mine), and willing to provide printed copies of their latest efforts so that I can follow along with my finger as they read their great American novels. My search has taken me to a college with ivy on the walls, master classes with the rich and famous, the Space Coast Writers’ Guild, and the Saint Cloud public library.

Everywhere I wind up, I learn a little something . . .

At my college, I learned that smoking the Mary Jane is more legal in some spots than in others. Early on, as I walked across campus with a school administrator, I caught an unmistakable whiff of the recreational . . . stuff. The school administrator seemed oblivious. I acted oblivious. I wondered if I should invest in an oxygen mask for strolls across campus, knowing that I would be tested for illegal drugs in order to become a volunteer member of the Osceola County mounted posse.

Apparently, riding a horse while stoned in the county of Osceola is frowned upon—not so much in Winter Park.

Master classes are just that, classes taught by masters in their art. The art, in this case, would be writing. What I’ve learned from the masters: good writers are not necessarily good talkers; a lot of writers talk trash about capitalism; a lot of writers never sell their books for less than list price; some masters are meek, self deprecating, and kind, but then they can afford to be. They’re stupid rich. Or as one of my teachers declared, “If you aren’t writing for money. You’re an idiot.”

I dig it.

Being a member of the Space Coast Writers’ Guild has given me the heads up. The space coast is a happening place for writers and their concerns: contests, book fairs, book signings, conferences, seminars, library spotlights . . . I’ve also realized that for every three new techniques I master to promote my books, there are seventy-two other high tech tricks waiting to be learned. The whole thing makes me want to be Emily Dickinson, wearing lovely gowns of lace and organza, alone in my isolated attic room, writing strange and convoluted poems about . . . whatever I want, whenever I want—for cash and prizes.

I’m an idiot.

And then there’s the writers’ group at the Saint Cloud library, headed up by a lovely man who declared his deep and fervent desire to break into the genre of mystery writing. Presently, he ghostwrites erotica, and it’s become something of a drag. Or as he declared, “Let’s face it, there are only so many ways you can ‘do it.’” Can’t argue with that.

I got to thinking about this lovely writer’s dilemma. Maybe, he could write space erotica. You know, people in space on their way to Mars, who have to figure out how to ‘do it’ in zero gravity. But then I remembered my lessons from high school biology.

“If it wasn’t for friction, there’d be no babies.”

And there it is—friction and gravity. The physical laws of the physical world—it’s just tough to argue with the law.

Riding a horse while stoned is stupid. Writing for money can pay the rent. Emily Dickenson is dead; it’s time to learn to tweet. Erotica may pay the rent, but mystery writing won’t run you up against the laws of friction and gravity. The sky’s the limit.

The search continues as I seek others of my kind. I learn a little here. I learn a little there. And it’s all good. And fun. And educational. And grist for the writing-mill that is my literary journey.

Linda (Grinding it Out) Zern

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