Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Greetings from Tahoe

I suppose there are many of you who are amazed that I can fire up my computer and find my way onto the internet without assistance.  But yes, years of business travel taught me many handy skills, including some technical ones I try not to use when the Dad is around as I like to give him something to do and he's good with computers.

So here I am.  At the end of my first full day of the writer's workshop trying to think of something to say about it.  First, I'll say I'm surprised.  I expected to be one of the older participants and I'm not.  I'm in the middle of the pack in terms of my age.  There are far fewer students than I expected are far more older writers.  Second, I expected to be the only person using this workshop as a break from my real life.  Again, not true.  Most people here have real lives and write as I do...seriously, yet not to the exclusion of things.  In fact, most people I've met balance writing with something else like child rearing or lawyering (lots of attorneys roam the workshops) or professional writing, not fun writing.  Finally, I always thought of this as a west coast workshop for west coast writers.  Boy was I wrong.  There are writers here from all over the country, writing everything from science fiction to comic books.  The only thing all of us have in common is we all are compelled to use the written word to tell stories...whatever they may be about.

The intensity in the workshops is palpable.  Everyone sits on the edge of their seats and leans into the circle, making our group physically closer.  It's like everyone is desperate to hear the next comment, because the workshop leader is so adept at generalizing the comments from one manuscript into something useful for everyone.  I learned more about writing fiction in three hours this morning than I have from the other two conferences I attended combined.  And that was just the workshop.    This afternoon I attended three classes on the craft of writing.  Every day for the next five will be like today. It's grueling.

Of course, all this learning made me see endless flaws in my own work.  And even worse, they took my manuscript yesterday when I arrived, leaving me with all this information and no hope of including it in my work until I get home.  I've actually considered stealing all fifteen copies of my submission back just so I can include some of my learnings before I'm critiqued. But I'm in the hot seat tomorrow morning and unless I'm willing to break into fifteen houses around the Valley tonight, I'm going to have to trust the manuscript I submitted.   

The walls of the main hall are lined with portraits of alumni who have published major works after attending this workshop. There are dozens of these black and whites of people looking very writerly.  Some of the faces I recognize, most I don't.  But I try to focus on those pictures when I feel intimated or insecure or anxiety-ridden, which are pretty constant emotions these days.   Because in the end, those folks sat in workshops just like me and learned how to make their writing better.  I hope at the end of this week, I'll do the same and maybe my picture will hang with theirs some day. I just have to get through tomorrow.


  • At 10:09 AM , Blogger Kelly Pollard said...

    Sounds like just what you need in your writing life! I can't wait to hear about how it goes with your manuscript.

  • At 7:58 AM , Blogger Cindy said...

    Sounds so fabulous, Julie! I can't wait to hear about it--and hope you'll share some of that fantastic learning! :-) Enjoy--remember to breathe!


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