Saturday, 23 April 2011

I Never Planned To Be A Writer!

I never planned to be a writer as my first blog reveals.  Then life happened.  And I was compelled to put it into words.

Though I fretted all week, my second post went up without a hitch.  Thank you Lord.  But now the monkey's on my back again.  Hmmm?  A blog-a-week seemed doable.  No big deal.  Yet what was this irritating rush of adrenaline?

As a closet writer, I've NEVER written under a deadline.  It's STRESSFUL!  And I, for one, will get up 3 hours early to avoid this crazy creature-in-the-making.  Rich or poor, we start with the same number of seconds, minutes and hours.  24 hours is the magic number.  Yet there's always too much to do and not enough time.  How do we use these moments knowing we can save none for tomorrow?

PRIORITIZE!  Yet be on guard . . . time bandits hide everywhere!  

April 14, 2011

It was Thursday!  And the beginning of Spring Term at Santa Barbara City College.  Even better, I was to meet my new editor after class.  She would be my third and final.  Emails were exchanged and we talked on the phone, but today we would meet in person.  It was a big day!

You ask, "Why three?"  The first was my teacher with a light edit.  The second, a classmate who openly volunteered, asking for nothing other than to accompany me to the Oprah Show, if I'm asked.  And now, an editor trained to polish and shine any rough edges.

I was anxious to be back with my peers.  A handful of addicts like me, dedicated writers and wanna-be-authors.  And the new students, yet unaware of their potential, the hard work involved, and if they were ready to step off the edge. 

9:30 a.m.  Cork Millner, our teacher, introduced himself then teased his Groupies.  This was my sixth quarter.  Same class 6 times.  Yet, I wasn't embarrassed, nor alone.  The handful knew the pleasure of each nugget gleaned from the whole.  And the wonder of a new voice, each story plucked from a lifetime. 

Our first class, the craft of Creative Nonfiction, involves imagery, character and dialogue used in fiction entertaining.  I was surprised when he asked me to read.  All I had was Chapter One, my hook.  It was intense for the first class, but I proceeded.  The room fell silent as I opened this door into my life.  No one spoke afterwards.  I could read their faces.  He covered the shock with words.  My blog was mentioned, and I was asked to write the link on the board. 

12:30 p.m.  Kay Thompson Lee, a lovely gracious woman, lives in Santa Barbara.  Her comfortable apartment with its generous balcony, overlooks the quaint college-town street with the ocean peeking through the trees.  Referred by Cork Millner, she edited three of his books. 

Kay showed me the program she used on her laptop to edit.  It allowed corrections and suggestions to show in red, and be applied with a single keystroke.  I appreciated her candor.  We discussed my expectations and priorities, while she affirmed the final decisions would be mine.  And I left confident my work would be treated with respect and openness.

My Journey into Publishing . . .

September 2009

In the beginning, Write From The Start gave me tools to see my work through new eyes.  My teacher agreed to read and critique five chapters each week.  Chapter One was his first:  "My, My - You are a Writer.  Excellent thus far.  Let's see more.  Cork."

I was stunned!  Cork Millner was the first stranger to read my work.  A teacher!  And he liked it!  Being an introvert, I move cautiously.  But his words ignited a fire.  He said I was a writer.  I am a writer! 

Each week his critique fanned this flame.  Finally, my work had worth and my story would be told.  Sixteen years is a long time to write alone.  No one should do what I did!  If you are . . . STOP!  Find a group and join it! 

I'm not writing to brag.  I want to share what a few words from a total stranger can do for a closet writer!  It's scary to step off the edge.  But to fly is exhilarating!!!

Lessons I've learned . . . my two cents.

A story should begin with a hook.  A hook is something from within the story that is moved forward to grab your readers attention, and pull them in.

Keep a notebook and pen by your bed . . . within easy reach . . . and a flashlight!  Wonderful words come at strange times.  When you're not controling them.  When drifting off to sleep, or in the wee hours of daybreak before your feet hit the floor.  Catch them, write them down.  If not, they'll take flight like a red balloon caught in the wind never to return.

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