Day 2 at Nimrod Hall Writers’ Workshop

Vivian Lawry reading at Nimrod Hall Writers' WorkshopNimrod Hall Travel Log

Day 2

At the Nimrod Writers’ Workshops, the first thing to go is sleep. The second thing is any pride of appearance. I live in T-shirts, scrub pants, and Tevas. Here I am doing my after-dinner reading, from DIFFERENT DRUMMER, “The Darwinian Co-Op Lending Library.”

Today was my big day to be “on”: I had group critiques of a memoir and of a short story, and tonight I read. I always like to clear my obligations ASAP so I can work on the pieces after.

A lot of good writers are here this year. Three more days won’t be enough!

UPDATE: Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. The 2015 Writers’ Workshop writers-in-residence are Sheri ReynoldsCathryn Hankla, and Charlotte G. Morgan

Nimrod Hall Travel Log Posts

Off to Nimrod Hall 

Day 1 

Day 1 at Nimrod Hall Writers’ Workshop

My room at Nimrod Hall Writers' Workshop

 

Nimrod Hall Travel Log

Day 1

Midnight is approaching. I’m wiped out–equal parts exhaustion and expectation! Sheri Reynolds is the writer-in-residence for Week 1. I met her this afternoon when she helped unload my “stuff,” got to know her a bit during our organizational meeting, and heard her read in our after-dinner session. She is enthusiastic, funny, well organized, and flexible. What’s not to love?

I just finished setting up the work area of my bed/writing room. The oldest part of the main building at Nimrod dates from 1783. Now it’s greatly expanded plus there are numerous outbuildings. My room is in Square House, photo to follow in the next day or so.

But wherever the room, the amenities are the same: no TV, no phone, no heat, and no AC. Although each room is equipped with a fan, I brought my own so I can have simultaneous intake and exhaust. Last I checked, the temperature was 81. I’m hoping for pleasant sleeping soon.

UPDATE: Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. The 2015 Writers’ Workshop writers-in-residence are Sheri ReynoldsCathryn Hankla, and Charlotte G. Morgan

Nimrod Hall Travel Log posts

Off to Nimrod Hall 

Off to Nimrod Hall Writers’ Workshop

Nimrod Hall Travel Log

Heading Out

For many years I’ve traveled to Nimrod Hall in Millboro, Virginia, for their annual writing retreat. Nimrod has inspired several of my stories and given me hours of valuable writing time.  This year, I’ll share a brief travel log.

Packed for Nimrod Hall Writers' Workshop

So, I’ve packed for Nimrod. This photo doesn’t include  laptop or the “supplemental food” I must take to meet my vegan protein needs. But Nimrod is rustic, so fan, work table, and writing “stuff” such as a travel printer are needed. I tend to travel heavy regardless, and now everything for two weeks–with special focus on insect repellent.

UPDATE: Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. The 2015 Writers’ Workshop writers-in-residence are Sheri ReynoldsCathryn Hankla, and Charlotte G. Morgan

Nimrod Hall Travel Log Posts

Day 1

Sisters in Crime Upcoming Events

Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia seeks to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. I’m proud to be a member. If you’re interested in joining, you can find out more about the national organization here. You can also join us on Facebook for more information.

Here are upcoming Sisters in Crime events for Central Virginia:

Saturday, August 1: Virginia is for Mysteries authors will present at the 2015 Virginia Writers Club (VWC) Writers Symposium — Navigating Your Writing Life: Balancing Craft and Business at the Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, VA.

Saturday, August 22: Several SinC-CVa chapter members will appear at the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival (facebook.com/SuffolkMysteryAuthorsFestival or through suffolk-fun.com).

Thursday through Sunday October 8-11 (with Wednesday 10/7 SinC into Great Writing workshop, for extra fee): The mystery conference Bouchercon is in Raleigh this year.

Friday, October 30: SinC-CVa and the Virginia is for Mysteries authors will assist the Chesterfield County Library System with their Friends of the Library fundraiser “Murder at the Library.” More details to come.

Saturday, October 31: The SinC-CVa “Lethal Ladies” authors are planning a book signing at Chop Suey Books in Carytown. More details to come.

Happy writing!

Psychology of Uncertainty: Better the Devil You Know

Psychology of Uncertainty

Better the devil you know. . .

. . .than the devil you don’t. Perhaps you’ve heard this bit of folk wisdom. It reflects the common understanding that people abhor uncertainty. Predictability is a desired state, even if what is being predicted is negative—to the point of being disastrous, dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. Think prisoners/captives: one powerful way to break down their resistance, to garner compliance, is to increase their uncertainty. This can be done handily by having no natural daylight, and artificial light that cycles on randomly, along with an unpredictable eating schedule, unannounced questioning sessions that sometimes include physical abuse and sometimes don’t—anything that is disorienting. Whole books have been written on uncertainty and its management.  (For example, see Psychology of Uncertainty by JD Smith, WE Shields, DP Britzman, D Brothers, and K Gordon; or The Social Psychology of Uncertainty management and System Justification  by K VandenBos.)

The takeaway for writers is that to increase tension, increase uncertainty, decrease predictability.

Given the examples above, the application to action/adventure plots is obvious, but this writing rule applies across genres. Will he/won’t he call? Does she love me or not? Will this disease kill my child? Will my boss understand if I miss another staff meeting? Will I miss my plane? Does the murder suspect that I know he did it? If your story unfolds in a predictable pattern, your reader will lose interest. Why bother to read what you know is going to happen? Perhaps truly fabulous prose will keep some readers going, but why depend only on that?