Thursday, July 12, 2007

First meeting of the Screen Porch Literary Guild

Last night poet Susan Ramsey and fiction writers Andy Mozina and I (Bonnie) met on my screen porch and drank wine and beer and sampled a variety of packaged snack foods, including cheesy popcorn, potato chips, pork rinds, soy crisps, and Daddy Ray brand fig newtons (all from Comstock Discount), as well as cashews that Andy brought and an intoxicating chocolate bar Susan found in her car that was 70% cocoa mass.

We have decided to be an organization that will promote good fun in the writing and reading world, or something like that. We also decided that any time that three or more writers meet on my screen porch, it will be declared a meeting of the guild. We also would like to have some principles or regulations of some kind, if only to violate them. We decided nothing else, though our voices were raised, though tangents were gone off on, though great satisfaction and agreement was reached, more than once, about some significant aspects of the writing life.

Andy seemed to be looking for trouble, however, when he said, "Oh, the publishing business is more or less fair. You send out your story twenty places. It gets accepted or it gets rejected. That's how it is." He then sipped beer through the fig cookie he held between his teeth. Perhaps having one’s book recently published puts one in a positive frame of mind.

Susan is planning on taking her first fiction writing class, so she asked Andy and myself how one goes about writing a story. "Do you go back and edit at what you’ve written, or do you keep writing forward to the end?" Andy drew a complicated diagram detailing his method of zigzagging through the writing of a story, but then he had to use that napkin to sop up some wine I spilled on him, so Susan has no artifacts to help her.

We discussed some topics involving local writers, including Stu Dybek’s story in the new New Yorker, Di Seuss’s keen mind for on-the spot poetry editing and poet John Rybicki’s good fortune at getting the one-year sabbatical replacement job at Alma College. And of course, I engaged Andy to sign copies of his book The Women Were Leaving the Men for my writer pals Heidi Bell and Carla Vissers.

Mike Campbell dropped by briefly, David Magson pulled up a chair, and Christopher Magson came in from work at 11:35 and told us things about alligator mating that we are not sure we believe.

Susan reported that Michigan News in downtown Kalamazoo is going to be celebrating their 60 year anniversary On July 13. Click this link for more info.

Not discussed at the meeting : Kazoo Books is planning to have a meeting for folks interested in forming writers groups of all kinds. If you are writing, you need to be in a writers group, and you should contact Kazoo Books about the August 2 5:30 pm meeting. Kazoo Books will provide a free meeting spot for groups. Contact info at:

Perhaps we guild members will soon decide what our purpose is, write a mission statement. Perhaps someone will build us a website. Perhaps our ranks will swell. Perhaps one of us will write a book that will make sense of it all.