Amazing! Exhilarating! Funny! Exhausting!
There are more descriptive terms somewhere in the universe but they have all floated away. This was day 1 of the Central Coast Writers Conference.
Today was a “Master Class” which, in my humble opinion, didn’t apply to me. I haven’t mastered anything related to writing. But this class was meant for me. It was a class on organizing all those thoughts that would be great ideas for a novel but which, for some strange reason, disappear from my brain about a nanosecond after I think, “I should write that down”!
It was a class on organizing ALL your thoughts. A class on organizing all the creativity that goes into that thing you want to call a book.
I did every exercise, read them out loud, listened to the teacher’s advise and did them again. I took copious notes on my computer and in long hand.
To say this is not how I usually conduct myself at classes or seminars would be an understatement. I usually find seminar classes, especially all day classes, boring. I doodle, check my phone, and try desperately not to nod off. I figured this all day (10am to 5pm) class would be extremely difficult, because of its small size, to pretend I was awake.
I vowed to take notes. I vowed to turn the phone off. I even took the new computer to take notes. I truly doubted it would work.
I am arrogant enough to think I can keep all the information in my brain, ruminate about it for a few days and then let the words fly. In my previous life, that is how I did it. I rarely took notes in court. I listened and got up and questioned. I listened and got up and gave a closing argument. I had read the police reports and investigator reports. In fact, I memorized parts of them that I thought useful and could quote them back to the people that wrote them. It made me look spontaneous to juries.
But I could not do that for my own writing. The writing that I am doing now is not based on input from someone else. It is based on my experiences, on the people I have met, the places I have been, the sunrises and sunsets that I have seen. It is a jumble of memories and feelings. I need to communicate those thoughts and feeling to people who do not know me. I need to put them “on paper” in such a way that the reader can feel what I felt or see what I saw.
So I signed up for the Central Coast Writer’s Conference. I wasn’t expecting much. I was sure I would be told to write in a particular way, a way that would sell. I had no intention of doing such a thing.
All the class members were in the neighborhood of beginners. Nineteen people in a small classroom with Michael Stackpole. I hadn’t heard of his books but that is because I don’t read fantasy novels. But what he taught us was invaluable to me.
Nothing was said about the style of writing. The overuse of hackneyed phrases was discussed. The overuse of adverbs and adjectives was mentioned. Everything else went to the art of preparation. Getting ready to write. Organizing the thoughts and feelings. Loosely put, it was a course on outlining. But it was a shifting outline where different thoughts could be moved and changed as the story took shape.
All of that with the caveat that once written, the book may not have any remaining relation to the outline.
That I understood. Nothing was set in stone unless and until it was published. No one would ever see the outline or the first drafts ever again.
For the first time, it occurred to me that I could write a book. It really could happen.
Tomorrow is a day of 90 minute workshops and lectures. I hope I learn at least half as much as I did today.
Oh, I didn’t feel the least bit bored and a nap never happened.
Now that is a first!