“No time to wallow in the mire”

“Get an idea. Write. Edit. Sigh, ‘Finally my masterpiece is finished.’ Take a week off. Look at your masterpiece. Exclaim, ‘What was I thinking? This sucks!'”

~ from Kristen’s Guide

I hope I’m feeling this total lack of confidence because I’m tired and because my little PT Cruiser, Cream Puff, is still acting out. Her condition remains undiagnosed, but something is draining her energy – ahhh, she’s just feeling sympathy pains for ME!

Anyway, because I am tired and thinking I am a better blogger than novel writer and will forever travel the blog-o-sphere versus the published authors’ circuit, I’m not going to write much tonight. I won’t mention how I continue to search for my authentic, honest voice or how I wonder if I’ve grown too old for the YA market or how I’m wondering if the workshop will send out rejection e-mails for the 1st page contest so I can add it to my little collection.

No, I won’t take the time to bore you with all that. Instead, I’ll post this gallery of pictures so you can see what good writers look like! (While I wallow in the mire of self-pity!)

“One is the loneliest number you’ll ever do.”

“The writing profession is reeking with this loneliness. All our lives we spend in discoursing with ourselves. . . .”

~ quoted by Fred Hobson in Mencken: A Life, Random House, 1994

Today was the second day of WIFYR workshop. Other than missing my exit because I was thinking of a better lead for a new story thus making me late, the day has been an improvement over the first one. Okay, I knew this going in, but writing is NO LONGER a lonely affair. I kinda wish it was because I could live in a world where I don’t know there are SO MANY aspiring authors! Nor would I know how GOOD those writers are. Nevertheless, what I am gaining from all the experts and NON-experts, I could NOT teach myself.  

Let me tell you that this workshop is organized-PLUS; thus maximizing opportunities to learn.  The day is set up like this:

  • Mornings: Work with Cheri Pray Earl and Rick Walton, two published authors and writing instructors at Brigham Young University and 20 peers who crack me up! (That’s because Cheri and Rick introduced us to SASS that first day!)
  • Afternoons:
    • Plenary Presenters – Authors, editors, agents share tips and ideas. SO helpful! (By the way, PLENARY was a new word to me. I think it is a very cool word. It means, “fully attended or constituted by all entitled to be present.”)
    • Break-out sessions – Participants choose an author, editor, or agents or a panel of these folks who address various topics, concerns, and questions. Very informative.


While I knew this workshop provided support for writers, I am still amazed at the amount of sharing, consulting, suggesting, listening, encouraging, inspiring, informing that takes place. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I know authors buddied up in days gone by, but I think that was AFTER writers published. I picture Hemingway partying in Paris with Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald or Carl Sandburg talking shop with Theodore Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson. But who did they brainstorm ideas with BEFORE their break? Who did they chat with when their plot lines flat-lined or their characters refused to develop? Maybe there were friends who provided what Hemingway or Fitzgerald needed over drinks, but I’m not sure that turned out in the long run.

Water was the only beverage we received at this confab. That only happened on the first day, and it was a mistake. So no potential authors need worry about ruining their lives because of booze provided by Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers Workshop. I know some were concerned when the conference moved from Brigham Young University to Salt Lake County, but don’t stress;  it’s still a dry environment.

Putting my drinking concerns aside, I found that one of the most helpful AND  scary activities is “work-shopping” participants’ writing. We read our papers while peers followed along. Next, writers listened to praise AND suggestions. It was all professional – civil even, and yet, my stomach clinched tighter and tighter as I watched my golden rod paper work its way to the top. Nervous as I was, I appreciated the feedback and think the suggestions strengthened my paper.

I was also inspired by reading the works of my fellow writers. WoW! What fine writing! Compelling and creative ideas that were fun to read. I also gleaned ideas from my colleagues’ comments to all the writers in the group. Sometimes a suggestion given to Amy or Jared applied to my work as well. I can’t tell you how beneficial this has been for me, and I want to soak up EVERY hint, idea, tip, suggestion,and critique I can. I really want to do this thing!

So much to write; so little time.

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: 
I wanted to know what I was going to say. “

~Sharon O’Brien    

I have three NOVEL ideas – I know that’s a lame pun, but it’s the truth. The first idea is a work of historical fiction, and I’ve written 2 chapters. I stalled because I decided that I needed to research the location, which just happens to be in Great Britain. That is out of the question, and so I just stopped writing.    

But now I have an important reason to continue this project as I am attending the Young Readers Annual Writing and Illustrating Workshop, and it starts next week. May I say I am PUMPED? Nervous, too, but VERY excited.     

Because my historical fiction piece is the only one of my ideas that have made it onto paper, I think I need to go with it. There’s lots of information I have researched in books and online, and I can continue. For example, I located shires on Google Map and was able to see highways and byways, shops and cottages, etc. Albeit, these are 2010 views, but let’s face it, some of G.B. remains much the same. Of course, I’m guessing, having NEVER made it across the pond to visit our cousin’s homeland.    

Moving on.     

I also want to write at least ONE page for each of my other ideas because the workshop is also sponsoring a First Page Contest for Writers and Illustrators. If I have first pages for all 3 ideas, perhaps I will receive peer feedback that will help me decide which to submit for the contest.     

Besides my historical fiction idea, I am toying with recreating an incident I witnessed while teaching 7th graders some 14 or 15 years ago. It involved 2 tragic situations experienced by two wonderful girls. While the circumstances were sort of similar, student reponses to the girls and their ordeals was vastly different. And I think that would be interesting to explore. 

  • Why did their peers treat the girls differently? (There are many possibilities.)
  • How did the girls cope with their individual tragedies?
  • How did they respond to their peers’ attentions of lack thereof?
  • How did their peers’ reactions affect the girls during that time period and the years following?

I think these are good questions to get me started. What do you think? Is your curiosity piqued?    

My last idea is to rewrite a classic novel. NOT like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I may have chuckled at that “revisionist” telling, but I couldn’t bring myself to force another classic author to roller over in her grave. No, my idea is to write a modern version of children’s classic because the world of 2010 bears some similarities to certain decades of the 19th century.  This means, however, that I need to re-read the classic as it has been years.     

So, with all these fun ideas swimming around in my brain, I jump out of bed each day, eager to start writing. BUT start writing WHAT? Historical fiction? Realistic fiction? Classic update?  

And then there is THIS question? What is currently popular in young adult fiction – besides vampires? Any thoughts about all this? PLEASE share! 

So MUCH to think about!