Until this summer, I had never participated in a writing group. The Willa Cather Conference in June was held virtually, and because I did not want to miss the conference, I was forced to enter the world of online virtual meetings. After much trepidation, I signed up and had a wonderful time. At the close of the conference I saw an invitation to join an online writing group, which would meet monthly via Zoom, using quotes from Willa Cather's books and short stories as prompts to inspire writing. It sounded like fun.
I joined and have participated in three meetings with other writers from both coasts and the heartland. The objective is to use a Cather quote to inspire the topic about which we will write. Our compositions can be fiction, personal biography...whatever Cather's quote inspires. After 20 minutes for writing, we take turns sharing and receiving comments from the other members of the group. The objective is not to complete a polished composition but rather just to exercise our imaginations and writing skills, and then share positive and supportive comments.
Our group includes writers who have published books, papers, encyclopedia articles, and work related to professional lives, in one case as a professional dancer. When I mentioned to the group that I had written fiction that I put away and never showed to anyone, my fellow writers encouraged me to get one of my stories out of its box and work on it.
That is how I came to retrieve a Legal Mystery Novel I had written years ago, even before I "met" Isaac Werner. Obviously, I have not been idle, since I have posted a blog every week since October of 2011, during which time "Prairie Bachelor" was completed. But with the group's encouragement, I found my Legal Mystery Novel. I specifically remember crafting the opening passage as I walked from my car to Fresh Market when we were living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had completed a first draft, but when I discovered Isaac Werner's Journal, my Legal Mystery Novel was forgotten.
Actually, that novel had gone into a box when we moved from North Carolina to Texas, and was still in its box when we moved from Texas to the farm in Kansas. All of our moving made it difficult, if not impossible, to find the manuscript. With Isaac now handed over to the publisher, I found my long-ago fictional hero, criminal lawyer, Kent Shaffer. My husband has put up with sharing my time with homesteader Isaac Werner, and just when he thought he was rid of his literary competition, here comes a a fictional lawyer to steal my attention.
While my books are very different, all of them relate to my love and respect for the amazing legal system our nation has, whether constitutional law or civil and criminal law. I don't know whether my Legal Mystery Novel will ever be published, and I don't have any idea about how to market a novel, but I share this week's blog to answer the question: What does a writer do when her book is finished? The answer is "A writer writes!"
Images: At top, things from my Baylor Law School years, and at bottom, my Baylor Law Diploma and the certificates for admission to the Bar in Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, both images shared in this blog because of its subject: my love for the law.