March 2021 Newsletter
Fred Fitzsimmons, President
I awakened to a gorgeous, crystal clear, sunny morning—one of the more pleasant February days. At thirty-five degrees, the temperature is relatively mild compared to the beastly, bitter cold sub-zero days of fierce winds and driving snows experienced earlier in the month.
The tranquil lake this day strikes me as a stark contrast to the wind-blown, snow-driven, deep-freeze days of racing white caps and raging eight-foot waves that pounded the shores earlier in the month.
I paused to reflect on those daily climate changes I observed in lake ice formations during that turbulent week. To the many having to endure the harsh outdoor elements, the freeze brought misery. However, from my sixth floor, cozy-warm condo perch, with its ten-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows, looking at the lake to the east and down the shoreline south offered a magnificent changing daily scene.
I witnessed fierce, crashing waves during the stormy weather days, which caused powerful, high-splashing lake spray. Then followed a phenomenon of ice sheets, ice discs, or ice pan formations. According to two of my condo neighbors who posted in our building newsletter, Wikipedia says these creations naturally occur in slow-moving water in cold climates.
So too, apparently, softer rolling waves following the turbulent earlier currents bring a collage of strange-looking donut-shaped ice formations. From my sixth-floor elevation, they looked like clustered, bobbing, slow-rotating, inflated inner tubes formed, I am told, by the lake’s eddy currents.
As described in Wikipedia, they appeared as thin circular slabs of ice that rotate slowly in the water and float until blown or washed to the shore where they form shelf ice. Some cling to the beach, while others affix then decouple. In this instance, most crunched against and attached to the shoreline forming six to eight-foot walls of rugged, angry-looking ice outcroppings, creating irregular ice jetties that jutted out into the lake.
Smattering days of sun break danced and sparkled on the shards of ice in the lake and along the shoreline. Other days brought clouded, gloomy, dreariness. There were even a couple of days that delivered shrouding fog cover and wind-blown, driving, horizontal, white-out snows that hid the lake from view.
The more I thought about the various sights I saw, I was taken by how my lake viewing experience served as a metaphor for what we encounter in our brutal writing winters. We, too, can have clear, sunny, tranquil days of productive, creative thought, followed by writing and editing periods of raging changes in editorial direction, hampered by clouds and fog, and the inability to see the message we wish to convey.
We, too, form our writing ice sheets and donut holes that swirl, curl, and slowly rotate in the eddies of our minds. It is challenging for those of us who experience it. Still, if we doggedly persist, eventually we outlast the storms, creativity and writing vision clear, and encouraging results tend to return.
My fellow scribes, until we meet again, keep writing.
My best to you,
Announcing Kimmery Martin: Building A Writer's Platform
OCWW Manuscript Critique Info and Deadlines 2020-2021
One of the outstanding benefits of being an OCWW member is the opportunity to have your work critiqued by some of our highly qualified speakers. To check if a speaker is accepting manuscripts please scroll down to the list below.
For all Speakers, unless otherwise indicated. Manuscripts should be sent as an attachment to email: email@example.com. Please make the email subject OCWW Manuscript. Manuscripts should be in Word, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font with one-inch margins, pages numbered, and name on the front or in the header. They should be received and paid for no later than 2 weeks before the workshop. Your manuscript critique will be returned by email the evening before or on the day of the speaker’s session.
PLEASE NOTE: Different speakers may have additional requirements or guidelines for manuscript submission. See the event description below for complete details.
Mandatory $10 Speaker Session Fees:
In addition to the manuscript critique fee, a single $10 session fee is required to submit a manuscript for an OCWW speaker’s critique. This $10 fee pays for the attendance of the session; this fee is due even if the member does not attend the speaker’s session.
Speaker’s Critique Fee:
$3 per page, with a 20 page maximum. *Please note there is a $15 minimum (even if you submit less than 5 pages) *
How to Pay for Your Critique:
Once your manuscript is received, you will be sent an invoice to allow for quick and easy online payment. Manuscripts cannot be passed on to the speaker without advance payment. Payment must be received at least two weeks before the workshop. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven't received your invoice.
A Surprise Contribution From John McCarthy
Our member Polly Hansen contacted John with a question about how much to include layered sentences and the answer that followed is priceless.
Thanks for writing and for your comments about today's workshop. Glad you could make it.
I think you're absolutely right in your distinction. Lyrical is the correct word and idea to land on when thinking about how to include textured, layered sentences.
There is no law on when or how to use them, but I always ask myself a few questions when revising:
1. Is the description tying elements of the setting and character together? Alternatively, does the lush description of a place mirror/contrast/illuminate the emotional/interior space of the characters?
2. Sometimes it's hard to move the plot along in a way that is motivating and engaging if one is just writing a sequence of events. How might we incorporate elements of flashback and plot within the description to widen the world we're building? How might elements of a character's backstory be embedded in the description of a thing/place?
3. And how might we then add music/sonic resonance to that backstory so that it carries the right emotional weight we want to convey. For example, we wouldn't use words like bubbly, bright, or dappled if we want to showcase something sad or harsh. We would want to use sharp consonant sounds and fricatives. I think this is how you avoid the info dump. If the description carries that musical sensibility, that information begins to register on a reader's subconscious level as well. And I believe this is what strongly helps with the sense of being profoundly moved after finishing a great novel.
This was a good question, and I hoped I answered it in a way that is useful to you.
MEMBER NEWS TO SHARE?
We want to share your good news about publications and other honors. Send them, along with JPGs of you and your publication, to:
email@example.com. The deadline for each issue is the 20th of month before. Please keep your news short (less than 100 words if possible) and write them in the third person. No PDFs please.
Membership Is a Bargain
An old saying states that guests, like fish, begin to smell after three day. While we’d never suggest that about any of our guests, what’s true is that at just three sessions, guests to Off Campus Writers’ workshops pay more than the sum cost of the $40 membership and the $10 member fees.
Save money—join Off Campus Writers.
There are a lot more benefits to membership. In addition to the lower per-session fee of $10, OCWW membership entitles you to:
Opportunities for manuscript critiques by speakers (using our manuscript submission guidelines)
The chance to join an OCWW critique group.
Opportunities to build your writing network
Join a fun, interesting, skill-building committee
Check out books from our extensive lending library when we return to live programming.
Share information about your publications and speaking events with other members at sessions and through our monthly newsletter.
Add your book cover to our Buy Member Books section on our OCWW website where it will be linked to purchase at Indiebound.
Enter OCWW Writing Contests
Also new this year is a lower price for students to attend our sessions. We offer a free discounted student membership with discounted session fees at $5 per session. Students must send verification of their student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AND POSITION CONTACTS
Volunteer To Assist with Transactions using membership software. Computer skills needed. 1 - 2 hours per month. Contact:
Volunteer Coordinator to help us identify members willing to manage a variety of volunteer projects currently in need of help. Contact: Paco Aramburu Pacoargent@gmail.com
Volunteer to Help with the Tee Shirt/Sweatshirt Fundraiser. Computer skills needed. 1 - 2 hours per month. Contact:
Virtual Meetings Point Person to run some of the scheduled workshops. We have 38 sessions every year, and that’s too many for any one person to handle. Contact: Susan Levi, email@example.com
Instagram Guru/Volunteer to set up and post to an OCWW instagram account. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer to Assist Treasurer and Membership Data using Excel software. Must have familiarity with Excel. 2 to 3 hours a month. Contact: email@example.com
Many of us have books selling on Amazon and other online bookseelers where they languish for a long time due to the lack of reviews. We'd like to help. We have created a Google Doc listing our membersbooks.
Feel free to add yourself to the list. Leave the name of the author, the name of the book and the URL of your book in Amazon.
If you take advantage of this opportunity, please make sure you read and review other OCWW authors. Fair is fair.