Workshops Mean Work

A couple of weekends ago I took Barbara Kyle’s Master Class:  Your Novel in Workshop and I’m glad I did.  Before I went I was beset with doubts about my capabilities and, at times, had thought of giving up my writing.  Yet I spent two full days with eight other writers reading and critiquing our respective works and I never even got tired!  Seeing others’ struggles helped me, for sure, but the best part was listening to Barbara’s criticisms of all our work.  I came home newly inspired and with a clear idea of the weaknesses in my work.  Better yet, our leader had a lot of good things to say, all of which left me talking incessantly to my husband about the whole experience.

The course was Saturday and Sunday.  Monday morning I started a Christmas writing project which took me all day.  That meant that Tuesday I took out the copies of suggestions and started revising.  Now I’ve revisited this novel already about a million times, but this time I really felt I knew where I was going.  I changed the starting point entirely and retold the whole chapter from my heroine’s point of view only.  As Barbara said, “the novel is about Lucy,” so use her words and thoughts.  Of course as we get into the book John’s point of view is crucial but later chapters can deal with that.

Tuesday I got about two pages rewritten.  Not enough because Wednesday night I was going to my first meeting of a critique group connected to the London Writers’ Society–the barracudas, a friend had called them.  That meant Wednesday I had a lot to do.  Luckily my computer skills are fairly decent as I was cutting and pasting, chopping and rewriting for most of the day.  Finally, about 4:30 p.m., I was ready to copy out nine pages.

I was planning to leave about 6 p.m. to make the meeting and about fifteen minutes before that I went searching my emails for the address.  Couldn’t find it.  Clock was racing.  Called the LWS president who, himself, had trouble getting the address and phone number for me, but after three phone calls from him, at a couple of minutes after sixI had the information and hit the road.

Forty-five minutes later I was parked outside the meeting-house, early.  I just had time to call my husband and report that I had found it and all was good.

There were five of us.  From the first reading by John, I knew I was in the right place.  He could write and these people could critique!  Right down to the tiniest comma and the merest suggestion of a word with the wrong connotation, they commented on the work.  Mine was the last to be heard and I knew it was lacking before I even started reading.  I just had not had the time to hone it.  Still, that was why I was there.  I wanted to be with a group who could teach me things.  And they did.  Directly, succinctly and pleasantly.  I was hearing from people who are walking the walk not just talking the talk.

And that is why I am late posting to this blog.  I’m focused again and writing again, with little time for blogs.  And it’s all work, but all good.


3 thoughts on “Workshops Mean Work

  1. Isn’t it fantastic to have a good critique group, Elaine. The meeting deadline is also a great push to get those words on the page. I learned from Brian Henry, don’t polish our writing until the very last step in the editing process. It makes it very hard to cut what should go, so we must learn to submit our rougher work to our critique groups. Good luck with the rewrites!


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