April 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm (Personal, Writing)
Tags: Cully Abrell, Gordon Kessler, inspiration, KWA, motivation, Writer's Conferences
I find that communion (or community) with other writers provides me with a sense of motivation that I don’t find to a greater degree elsewhere. After the KWA seminar in 2010 and 2011, after a one-day seminar with Gordon Kessler (“Novel Writing Made Simple”), after a KWA monthly meeting (especially after one like this past Saturday with Cully Abrell)—the feeling inside is to sit my butt down and tap out some prose or edit and revise a work in progress or read an invigorating piece of fiction or…
The bottom line is that we as writers NEED to be around others, especially other writers. There is the line you will hear about writing being a solitary act of creation. Then again, many acts of creation are solitary. Dramatics is one primary exception to the rule. However, we all need feedback and inspiration and encouragement.
I believe the lack of that is what leads a great many scribes to what is known as Writer’s Block. This is when solitary activity alone causes a general shutdown of the creative process. All it takes, it would seem, is that element of community.
That being said, I am not currently a member of a critique group but I am certainly aware that I must find one. I can’t wait a year for another conference or a month for another meeting.
I am motivated NOW.
April 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm (Writing)
Tags: Cully Abrell, dialogue, Kansas Writer's Association, martini, Writer's Conferences, Writing
This past Saturday, April 16, the KWA (Kansas Writer’s Association) used a road trip to hold their monthly meeting. A barn that has been turned into a bar called The Tahitian Room with eclectic garage sale collectibles in Peck, KS was the site.
The host was Cully Abrell, born James Clayton Abrell. He is former actor and screenwriter (with movie credits found on IMDB.COM), who holds a Master’s in Dramatics from SIU (without the benefit of a high school diploma) and was a former professor of Dramatics at Friends University. To call him a character is missing half of his charm. He is an inveterate story-teller.
His wife, Sue, seemed to be more than a match for him and she was the ultimate hostess. (She took pleasure in showing me a 4x Hawaiian shirt that she was tailoring for a friend. It had a black background with an intricate pattern. She also liked my salmon Polynesian lady shirt from Mauishirts.com)
I arrived early and was treated to the best dry Beefeater martini that I have ever had in my life. (And I should know.) He used a twist of red grapefruit in the shaker and placed the glasses in the freezer to chill them before pouring. His back was turned to me while he was preparing them so I couldn’t tell how much (if any) vermouth he used. Other members filtered in; a food and snack table was set up; there were stories of the last time many of the longer-standing members visited; and several great anecdotes.
Despite the ambiance and decor, we did actually have a meeting. The primary theme was on dialogue. Despite the fact that Cully’s main focus had been theater, he provided several examples of the importance of dialogue in fiction. One phrase that he used was “Skip to the next line.” In regular real-life conversation, everything that is said would wind up being boring or unimportant in a sequence in a fictional story. By skipping to the next line, you are getting to the real dramatic meat and pushing the story forward.
Two other comments he made struck me as being key definitions in regard to the craft of writing. He said that Humor was the Unexpected without danger but that Terror was the Unexpected with danger. And finally, Technique is what you do; Style is how you do it.
Cully is 84 and quite deaf but his voice is clear and resonant. His mind is sharper than the proverbial tack. He invited us back for another meeting much sooner than the time KWA was out there 10 years ago.
For the camaraderie, for the insight, and, yes, for the martinis, I couldn’t agree more.