I wonder what happened to…

My predictions at the end of that last post were right on. Last Saturday’s 15 Minutes of Fame writing practice did have more energy, more wordplay, more laughter, and more fun.

It also had more people. Twelve. That’s 12: double the average attendance for the past year.

I didn’t predict that.

Normally we all sit around one table. Saturday we had to set up two folding tables and push all three together. Even then, every place was filled.

There were so many writers, I was shy when it was my turn to read.

No one was new. The “extra” six were just members who hadn’t attended lately, or who’d been there when someone else was absent. Our “average” comprises an ever-shifting population.

There are any number of reasons FMOF doesn’t recognize perfect attendance. We have families, other engagements, other lives outside writing practice. Sometimes we have the flu.

Nobody calls roll. We do, however, say things like, “Has anybody heard from Liz?” “I wonder what’s happened to Pat.” “Donna ought to be back from Colorado by now. I wonder why she hasn’t been here.”

And then, when a crowd shows up, it’s like a class reunion, minus the checks for weight, hair loss, and career status. There are gasps–“Look who’s here!”–and quick catching up. Last Saturday, David passed out DVDs he’d made of Sunday’s reading at Borderlands Community of Poets.

And then we got down to business: “How long should we write this time?”

No matter how many, or how few, sit around that table, it’s always about the writing.

*************

To my readers: You are always invited to join us for writing practice at 15 Minutes of Fame. We do timed writings and read (on a voluntary basis) what we’ve written. We don’t criticize or critique. We’re not professional writers or professional poets. We just like to write. And if you’ll join us, we’ll be more than happy to find a place for you at the table. ~ Kathy

You can find more info on 15 Minutes of Fame available at our blog.

Last Sunday’s poetry reading

Sunday evening, seven members of the writing practice group 15 Minutes of Fame were featured readers at Borderlands Community of Poets, sponsored by Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.

We had a blast.

Instead of sitting around a table, we faced the same direction, watching as one by one our fellows approached the lectern. Instead of listening to short prose and fledgling poetry written against the clock, we heard poetry composed in solitude and revised, edited, and polished at leisure.

We learned our friends don’t just enjoy writing. We learned they’re poets.

After the reading, most of the readers and about half of the audience migrated down the sidewalk to the Fire Bowl for dinner.

What’s next? We don’t know. We’ve thought about a retreat. Spending a day or two in a quiet rural setting with nothing to do but write write write sounds attractive. But it will take planning.

I predict, however, that when we gather tomorrow morning, we’ll feel an energy that wasn’t there before. I predict more wordplay, more laughter, more of the spirit of fun that has attracted writers to 15 Minutes of Fame for the past fifteen years.

***********

15 Minutes of Fame’s longevity is due to the efforts of moderator Mindy Reed, who founded the group and has kept it going. Mindy hasn’t been able to write with us for a while, but we look forward to her return. Meantime, if you drop by Recycled Reads, she and her staff will be happy to give you an excellent deal on a used book.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Two Saturday mornings a month, when reasonable people are still in bed, David and I sit around a table with five or six other like-minded individuals and practice writing.

We do timed writings–ten minutes, twelve minutes, the magic fifteen, sometimes even twenty–and then read aloud what we’ve written.

Write. Read. Write. Read. Write. Read.

We follow principles set forth in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. David supplies prompts for those who need a jumpstart. Subjects are neither prescribed nor forbidden.

Some of us write from life. Some write fiction. Some write poetry. David writes in a genre that can only be called “off-the-wall.” Everything we write is creative.

We do that for two hours.

Why?

Friendships. Fluency. Fun.

We see the people we write with only four hours a month, but we know them, in some ways, as well as–perhaps better than–some members of our own families. Their stories tell us who they are.

And there’s something about being with them, playing with words, playing off one another’s words, that creates energy–parallel energies, if you will–that affects our minds and our hands. We become more fluent. We become better writers.

As for fun–what can I say? We laugh a lot. When David, the temporary facilitator, looks at his watch and announces it’s time to leave, I’m always surprised. And disappointed. Those are the shortest two hours of my week.

Now here’s where we get personal. Our group is called Fifteen Minutes of Fame. It’s free and open to the public. New members are welcome.

If you live in or near Austin, Texas, you’re invited to join us. Bring pen and paper and just show up on the third floor of BookPeople Independent Bookstore, 603 N. Lamar Boulevard (corner of 6th St. and Lamar), on the first and third Saturdays of the month. We write from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

If you’re visiting Austin, you’re welcome to visit us as well.

And if you ever attended an Austin writing practice group called Writing From the Heart, you’ll feel right at home with us. Fifteen Minutes of Fame originated as Writing from the Heart. It’s been in existence for fifteen consecutive years. The name is different, but the process is just the same.

For more information, including 2010 meeting dates, check out our blog, Fifteen Minutes of Fame. If you haveĀ  questions, send an e-mail to the address listed on the FoF blog, or leave a comment there or at the end of this post.