I attended the Scribbler’s Writer Retreat Weekend at Sea Island, Ga., this weekend, on scholarship from Brewton-Parker College. I’m very grateful to the sponsors of the event and to Brewton-Parker for sending me. I met many like-minded people – writers. It’s been a while since I was surrounded by so many creative and passionate people – people who seem to have a purpose, or at least the recognition of what they want to achieve in life, achieve in their writing. Prior to this weekend, I had forgotten my own writing goal: to finish the three novels I’ve started. Or at least finish one of them. I think to some extent it’s an intentional avoidance masqueraded as something forgotten. It may also be a product of a stressed lifestyle or an overt attempt to keep everything “under control”. (Writing and the act of it is messy and unpredictable, and very demanding on my time and my focus. It consumes me like an obsessive one-sided love affair.)
Either way, I need to be a Nike advertisement and Just Do It. Write 250 words a day. Write what I know. Write the first draft all the way through – and leave the hard-core editing for the third or fourth re-write.
If I just take one of these pieces of advice I was offered this weekend, I should be able to turn those six chapters into a finished 75,000 word manuscript. This is my goal, the one that will be listed in my five-year plan. Five years should be enough time. Ten?
I’m proud to report I earned a 2-hour kayak tour for two from one of the two writing challenges. The assignment was to write a paragraph about an experience that evokes a childhood memory. Here’s my winning entry:
The boy tugs on the fine wire, wrapping it back into the reel. A splash of silver explodes about three feet from the shore. I see a tail, a fin. The tug-of-war lasts only a few moments as the teen pulls in his prize — a 4-foot long mama shark and her baby, no more than a foot long. Both glisten a pale silky gray. The father’s pliers are dull with rust from the salt and the shark, sensing his weakness or recovering from fear, struggles in the man’s grip. I slow my walker’s pace along the water’s edge and join a few twenty-something, bikini-clad tourists, saying things I don’t understand in German. We take pictures of the gaping fish, its mouth now bloody and leaking in the surf. The father releases it back to the waves. The baby, now dead, is tossed by the son in a wide arc over the water, landing with an unsettling plop. I turn my back to the fishermen and walk at a slower gait, head hung over my shadow. I walk the rest of my lunch hour looking for shark’s teeth in the mud-colored sand, remembering the sunburned summer our family moved to Beaufort and I claimed my membership in that exclusive circle of Lowcountry Boys and Girls.