The writer’s group to which I belong sponsors a variety of activities. I usually participate in meetings when a guest author or editor has been invited to speak. I tend to avoid sit-around-the-table discussions. What I have learned about this kind of activity is that most listen and a few dominate the conversation.
Even with having prior knowledge concerning discussion groups, I decided to attend a group that was meeting at a locally owned bookstore/restaurant. I knew that even if a few dominated the conversation, I could still be a participant as an eater.
This meeting had no topic or agenda. The facilitator simply asked, “What do you want to talk about?” Then she went around the table beginning with the person sitting to her right and asked each of us to answer the same question.
As you might suspect, there were many topics introduced. Some folks were frustrated with literary agents and editors; some held up copies of recently published books and provided us with a story synopsis; some publicized their book cover design and editing services; and several complained about how our organization is administered.
In short order, the evening became a bit of a drag. A few people went to the restaurant to purchase drinks that were somewhat stronger than coffee. I assume they were attempting to make the self-promotion and complaining more bearable. But about three-fourths of the way around the very large table, one lady got our undivided attention. She began by stating that her most cherished dream was to write a novel. But she had a problem. She had never had anything exciting happen in her life, so she didn’t have anything about which to write.
Questioning by the facilitator revealed that she thought a novel had to be something that had happened to the author. With patience, someone explained that a chronicle of happenings from one’s own life is a memoir and that fiction is an imaginary tale. Her response was, “You mean all of those stories I’ve read were made up? Do people just get those things out of their heads? I couldn’t do that. I can’t write lies.”
As the lady looked around the table, I was sure she was saying to herself, “Liars, liars, liars!”
But the evening was not a total waste. I learned that anyone can nominate a novel for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. One in the group shared that he had nominated his own novel. There is a fee, but he apparently thought being able to say his book was nominated meant money well spent. Since no work of fiction won the prize for 2012, I have to think that maybe the judges were unable to make a decision because they were so overwhelmed by the many self-nominated works.
When I was young and would make the mistake of bragging about something I had done, my dad would say, “Blessed is he who tooteth his own horn, for if he tooteth not his horn, his horn shall not be tooted.”
Though tempting, maybe I won’t nominate my own novel for the Pulitzer Prize.