What’s a WriteIn?

write inNo, we’re not taking a grass roots approach to winning an election…

It’s just several people sitting in a room all writing at the same time, each in our own thoughts, immersed in our own stories. It seemed like a good idea on the surface. It seemed even better in action.

We didn’t state any lofty goals when we started. There were no word-counts to strive for. Hell, I wasn’t even sure ahead of time that anyone would even show up.

And yet, there we were. Two typing away, two writing on paper. The occasional smile lit up one of our faces. More than an occasional scowl passed another. How is it that writing can be both satisfying and fulfilling, and yet be so damned frustrating at the same time?

Four hours passed like no time at all. Two people with shared stories. A small celebration over a launched website. Traded reading of drafts. Enter someone new, with energy raring to write. Why did I bother her with questions and talking? Couldn’t I see she wanted to let those characters out of her head? Enter the fourth person, also ready to write, and this time I knew to keep my mouth shut!

Time for one to go. Life intervenes, as it must.  But what time was it really? Turned out it was time for a carrot cake and coffee break!

Next came a question about setting up a website or a blog. Experiences shared, and new things learned on both sides of the fence. Robin just may have solved my quandry over reverse-chronological posts by finding a work-around called “Sticky Posts”. I’ll keep you “posted” on how that turns out!

Even if I didn’t write a single word tonight, this alone would’ve made the afternoon and evening worth doing.

Next came a question about the intricasies of MS Word. Well, I tested through Microsoft Office Certification in MS Word. That sucker ran me through hoops I’ve never once seen anyone actually NEED while preparing a document. Hit me, baby!

  • “How do you turn on that feature where it gives you a Reading Level and score at the end of the SpellCheck?”

Uh… what? (Okay, I’ll be honest. Maybe what I was actually thinking was closer to, “Seriously, I think you’re making shit up.”) But this was a REALLY GREAT MOMENT for me. I try to always tell my computer students that the little blue question mark symbol in the top right of the program is for accessing Microsoft’s Help feature. I see the disbelieving looks in their eyes when I tell them that it really is, almost always, helpful.

Time to test out the theory for myself. On something that counts. Click the blue question mark. Type in “grade” and click Go. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t give me a link to an answers.yahoo.com site where some-young-thing has solved this very dilemma for me! (Of course, the longer story is that the feature is only supported in certain versions of the software, i.e., not the “cheap” one. But our library computers are equipped with the ability to activate this feature if you want to try it out for yourself. I think this is a GAME-CHANGER. We’ll definitely have to revisit the topic as each of us prepares for draft edits and revisions later.)

What occurred to me is that if I were at home, I would’ve gotten up to fold the laundry that’s been sitting in the dryer. And since it’s my son’s laundry, and he just left on a weekend trip, it meant I would be putting it away in his room after that. Have you seen a teenager’s room lately? If so, then you know how the rest of my evening would likely unfold (no pun intended) after hanging up the laundry and finding food wrappers laying in more corners than one room should realistically possess.

You know what? I don’t think I missed that experience. Instead I revised two chapters of one book, reworked one longer chapter of another book, got inspired to write a “funeral scene” in the former, and shared a bit of the journey with you as well. Not that you wanted to go to a funeral. (But you definitely should check out that Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level thing if you’re an MS Word user!)

So… says the Queen of making a long story longer…if you’ve been on the fence about committing to come out to a WriteIn over the next few months, I think I can safely say it’ll be worth your time if you give it a try. The worst that’ll happen is that you’ll get frustrated and write a funeral scene to kill off one of your characters!


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