A Writers’ Trio
by C.K. Thomas
I’m writing a novella called The Muse with two friends. We’ve decided on 15,000 words, and we meet once a month at our local Panera Bread restaurant and online, as needed. Each of us has assumed the identity of a character in our story. Here’s how it all began.
Way back in about 2003 or so, I was working at a large Methodist church as their publications editor. My artist friend was also working there as, well, an artist doing projection screens for the Sunday worship. Of course, as workers will do, we spent some time on the job NOT working.
One day I sent an email to the artist: “A story in two sentences: There were once two friends . . . a writer and an artist . . . and what they created bound them together in endless conversations about art and craft and growing old. Their names were Cheryl and Suzanne, and they lived quite happily, the artist in her sun-drenched studio, brushes in hand, and the writer in her book-lined room, pen at the ready.”
So, instead of “Ha, ha, very funny,” Suzanne emailed a paragraph that read: “One afternoon, Cheryl quietly entered Suzanne’s studio and settled into an overstuffed, paisley-covered chair, breathing a heavy sigh as she kicked off her shoes. Unable to ignore the hint of Cheryl’s distress, Suzanne turned from her latest painting of a lily, set her brush aside, and inquired about Cheryl’s problem.”
Thus, began a collaboration that would flare and then go to embers over several years until Suzanne and I retired and began seeing each other once a month over coffee. Then, “enter Diane,” a friend of Suzanne’s. By this time the two of us has been writing haphazardly on “our story” and had invented a character named Linda. When our artist/writer friend Diane took an interest in “our story,” we changed Linda to Diane, so we could add another writer to our scheme.
So far, we have about 8,000 words or so in “our story,” and Diane has started to contribute to our insanity. We’re stumbling now over how to collaborate using a “master copy,” but we can’t figure out how to use the Cloud for this purpose. We’ve got the story in Dropbox, but the user can only work on the document if they download it. Technology is getting in the way, so we’re struggling along, simply using “cut and paste” each time we meet to compare notes. I’m sure eventually we’ll figure out the Cloud.”
What the three of us treasure most about our adventure in story writing is the laughter and the tears we’ve shared over coffee, pastries, and sandwiches. Our trio reminds me of a fish story.
When I used to go fishing with my dad on Lake Webster in Indiana, we wanted to catch fish, of course, but going out in the boat was more about going out in the boat. It meant sitting back and feeling the sun on our backs, hearing the gentle lake waves lapping against the side of the boat, and breathing the fresh air across our bow. The trip out across the water, the floating around finding just the perfect spot to cast our lines, and the trip home feeling satisfied, relaxed and embraced by a day on the water gave meaning to a sport we called “fishing.”
Our writing trio has rediscovered a universal fishing truth. It’s not the story, dummy, it’s us.
C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.