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I belong to an informal writing group. We meat once a month for brunch where we share our work. I hate speaking to people. If I talk to you, I have something I feel I need to say. It’s common for me to spend most of a day silent.

Writing is different. My brain seems to focus idea to my fingers, not my mouth.

I make a point of sharing my work, though, even if it is sub-par or not ready for proper presentation. It’s an interesting experience. Several times I’ve read works that I’ve read internally over and over, edited them to death, and thought they were ready for the general public.

Then I read them aloud.

Wow, it’s amazing how many times I’ve read sentences that didn’t make sense, didn’t flow right, or silly things like repeated words jumped out at me. Some words shouldn’t be repeated, not close together. Take the word “shadow” Say I wrote something like this. “I hid in the shadowed ally waiting for my mark. I had memorized her profile and her face; Bob gave me her complete file. I wasn’t prepared, though, for what she looked like in person. She walked out of the shadowed entrance of the club …” The word shadow stands out like a sore thumb. One of them needs to go. These are the glitches I make that I might not catch when I’m writing and editing, but reading them, particularly out loud, makes them jump out. It’s like passing your writing through a fine filter. “Oh look Martha, we caught a big shiny one!”

So yesterday I read scene five of my current novel. It’s a sequel to the previous scene. I try to follow Randy Ingermanson’s advice. If you do the math, my first scene is actually a sequel. I need to assess whether I stick with this low-key beginning or not. I see no way around it, though. My protagonist is low-key, and it suits her. But I regress. I liked the scene I read. I thought it was low-key but meaningful, deep even. It tied in my first scene’s themes — getting old and not fulfilling a purpose — with my initial scenes’ events, and I created the idea for the rest of the story over a bucket-list discussion. The idea for the trip — this whole story is about a trip — came from a friend which I thought was a brilliant deflection: it makes the whole crazy idea sound plausible which was my main goal.

Anyway, I read it looking for deep meaning, but it came out much slower and less exciting and meaningful than when I read it to myself. One sentence jumped out at me as needing work — I have no idea which one, except it was the first in a paragraph. I did achieve a couple of laughs during the reading, and that always thrills me, but there was an uncanny quiet while I read which matched my own feeling of mundane. I was worried I’d have to ditch the whole scene. The previous month I read my favorite scene, the real intense, shall we say engaging scene. One of the group caught on to what was actually happening and roared throughout. The others were mystified until the end. Yes, my work at hiding the true events worked. But I digress again. This week when I stopped reading, I looked up and around at all the faces. I saw stunned smiles. “That was really good/nice” and “I loved the flow; it’s so easy and clear.”

Okay, dammit. Move on. Get ‘er done, John.

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