New Writers Critique Group in Rough Draft Mode

Isaac Denbo, left, reads an excerpt from Jim Corley’s book-in-progress while Corley, center, and DeMilt Morse, right, follow along. Photos by Sarah Brown

There are slingers, gunslingers and edible slingers, but the kind of slinger Jim Corley is looking for are inkslingers.

Thus, naming his new group “Inkslingers,” Corley seeks to bring together those who write (spill ink onto a page) for the purpose of help and encouragement.

“I find that writing is something you have to do by yourself, but it gets better with help,” he said.

Corley said he had participated some time back in a critique group out of Arizona, which provided a lot of help for his own books and articles. He has published many nonfiction articles for magazines in addition to a few books. His most recent book is a children’s book about elephants titled, “Kubwa,” the Swahili word for ‘huge.’

Corley also published “Harley the Redneck Shepherd: A Sheepherder’s Humorous View of the First Christmas,” and a few other nonfiction books about shadowing Jesus. All of his books have been independently published, a strategy he learned at a college in California that he also now teaches.

Currently he is getting ready to publish a fiction piece, “The Secrets of Solomon’s Seal: A Palestinian Story,” through Amazon.

Isaac Denbo, left, and Jim Corley sit for a meeting of Inkslingers at the Sweet Home Public Library.

His Inkslinger group, which meets every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Sweet Home Public Library, is fairly new (a rough draft, so to speak), but so far two other writers have joined him.

DeMilt Morse is the most recent newcomer to the group. On his first visit, he brought with him a sample of the first book he is writing.

“This is all new for me; that’s what I’m here for,” Morse said. “I wanted to see what was available or see what I needed to work on to possibly publish a couple books.”

It quickly became evident Morse is the humorist in the group, ready to jest when opportunity presented itself. Yet his preferred subject matter is far from comedic – politics and religion – which, he said, is a difficult subject to broach in conversation and even more difficult to find people who understand what he’s talking about. That’s where his book might come in handy.

“I want to introduce the fact that America was founded on dirigisme,” he said.

Within his first half hour of posing questions to Corley, Morse said he’s already learned quite a bit.

“I see I have a long way to go,” Morse said. “I have a lot of questions and I have no idea how to organize my production so that it fits the publication world, so I’m picking the brains as I see them – I want to eat your brains (he laughs). So that’s my purpose for being here.”

After having looked over Morse’s sample of work, Corley shared that it is well-written, but suggested his last two paragraphs might be better suited as the first two paragraphs. He also suggested the new writer consider who his audience will be, given that the vocabulary is heavy.

DeMilt Morse, foreground, talks to Isaac Denbo and Jim Corley about his idea for a book about politics.

Isaac Denbo, who attends the meetings between a busy work schedule, also pointed out some ideas for Morse before the group proceeded to read aloud a chapter from Corley’s current project.

Denbo said he joins the group to act as a sounding board for those who need one.

“I like writing; I just don’t have any time to write, so instead I read and edit,” Denbo said. “I enjoy being a sounding board and I enjoy bouncing ideas off of (Corley).”

If he does ever take up a book project though, Denbo believes he would try writing maybe fantasy fiction. But, Corley noted, Denbo makes really good observations.

The goal of a critique group, Corley said, is not to pound a writer into the ground, but instead point things out and offer encouragement, and that’s something Denbo does well.