Saturday, June 21, 2008


It's actually Saturday. I was simply too worn out to type one word last night. I didn't even check email.

The last day I met with an agent--a privilege it has taken me six years to earn. His encouraging words, "I love it," and "I know you can write." This is pretty good for a girl who ten years ago didn't even know what the word "genre" meant and six years ago--or maybe it was seven--I attended my first BYU conference and knew virtually nothing.

Can I finish my YA novel and get it ready for submission? Yes, I'm going to. It means hard work and I'm going to do it.

The chapter the agent read went through three different critique groups in the last month, including the class of Sally Warner's at the BYU workshop. I received help from many hands, including a published author. So, with all that help it ended up better than my original.

Now I am going to have to rely on my critique group to be brutal. I am going to ply them with caramels for Christmas--and maybe other times too, and Savory Italian Tomatoes and--perhaps most persuasive--threats and guilt. "You must help me or I will wither and die," or perhaps something not quite so dramatic.

My advice to anyone else in my position--someone who wants to publish: Write every day. The difference in a great writer and a great writer who publishes is the second one writes every day--or at least five days a week. This was evident, this year. I heard it over and over and over. You can't take a vacation from your writing because you have little kids or fill-in-the-blank. Whatever you are dealing with you will need to deal with it and write too.

Okay, yesterday's gems:

Be able to tell someone about your novel in an "Elevator Pitch." That means two sentences, as long as it take the elevator to reach the agent's floor--while you have her captured in the elevator.

If its funny make it hilarious. My chapter was funny. The agent wanted me to bump it it up to make it more funny.

If your novel is tragic or has some really tough issues then end it in some kind of hopeful way. In Sally's novel, IT ISN'T ABOUT THE MONEY, she ended with a flashback where the protagonist remembered a wonderfully tender moment--a moment she could treasure all here life--with her parents before the tragedy happened.

Talent is passive, many people have talent but don't create. It takes courage to create. And hard work. THE COURAGE TO CREATE by Rollo May was sited by Sally. Being creative is active--it employs action. People who last, have a mixture of talent and creativity. If you have all talent and no creativity you NEVER FINISH a manuscript. I seem to have no creativity for housework. Although, I may have the clutter talent.

Creativity and forgiveness are the highest functions we have and the hardest too. All the powers in the Universe seem to be working to stop you from getting writing done and once you have made the effort to do it the Universe helps you. You will find ideas everywhere. The same goes for forgiveness.

Books should be about something important. Estrangement from a sibling, betrayal of a friend and how the protagonist makes things right, etc.

When Sally feels she is loosing her way she asked herself things like, "What am I trying to say? What's the point I'm trying to Make?

Quaker saying: "Sit loose." Wait until you know what's the right thing to do.

Be careful about talking about something you are going to do because it takes the energy from the project.

Sally--and her husband, who is a writer too--writes all morning until about 1:30 and then they they do "life things"--like go to lunch. I vote for that. In the evening she revises the morning's work.

A quote from jean Rhys: "All of writing is a huge lake. There are rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake."

I am thinking that perhaps the little trickles will be poetic and feed someones soul. Or maybe they will be funny and lighten someones day. That's enough for us. To help someone out on the slog that it takes to get through the day to day life.

Make a list of 100 titles for you book. Make a list of 100 ways to solve the problem in your book. You will never find the perfect title or problem solved in number 1-20, it will maybe be number 78.

...Okay, it's again very late and this is enough for tonight. I imagine the only people who are still with me are those who are interested in this subject. So, goodnight.


Pam's Place said...

I stayed with you to the end. Great entry. I will have to re-read and re-read and re-read it. Lots of good stuff here. I can see why you love that seminar.

Colette Amelia said...

Wow, I want a signed copy of the book when it is finished!

Muum said...

thanks for sharing your writing workshop - it was great to hear about and learn from!

Anonymous said...

Your writer's seminar sounded very interesting and enlightening, Lynne. I love to read fiction, but I'm more about writing memoirs and other little ditties. Even so, I will refer back to your notes again and again.

By the way, I would love to join your critiquing group on the caramel-plying sessions. (I wish I could remember my password.)