Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Impossible Dream?



Ever since I became a 'published author' back in 2005, I've been amazed at how many folks out there have that same dream. Whenever I speak at a bookstore or a library or any sort of writerly event, I can count on being asked how I got started -- and sometimes folks are surprised to learn that one little class that met just six times (and I missed one of those) was all it took. No MFA (Masters of Fine Art) in writing, no series of conferences and workshops, no grants from arts councils -- just this one simple class  was the catalyst to get me going.

Bill Brooks  taught that class (Writing Fiction That Sells!) I took back in 2000. He suggested at the first meeting that we decide what sort of novel we were going to write -- romance, western, mystery, sci fi, etc. -- come up with a protagonist and setting, and use these in each assignment. With any luck, when the six weeks were up, we'd have at least a toe hold on a novel.

And this is when my Elizabeth Goodweather was born. By the time the class was over, I'd gotten to know her and the setting fairly well -- I'd written a dialogue so I knew what she sounded like; I'd written a romantic scene (blush;) and a scene with building tension. I had, in fact, found the beginnings of my voice as a writer.

Bill also explained to us clueless novices just how one went about finding an agent -- and what exactly an agent does. He told us how to format our manuscripts and how to write a query letter. Nuts and bolts stuff -- all of which made that impossible dream seem a little more possible.

During the last class as Bill was packing up to leave, I asked him if he'd tell each of us what were our greatest strength and greatest weakness. And Bill just looked at me and said, "You don't have the passion it takes to write a novel."

Well.

Four or five published novels later, I was teaching a workshop at a writers' conference and I told this story. One of the women in the group raised her hand and said,  "I took a class with Bill. He told me I was a terrific writer and I should keep at it. Unfortunately, I just stuck what I'd been working on in a drawer and forgot about it... I kinda wish he'd pissed me off instead."

All of which is to remind those of you in the Asheville area that starting in February I will be teaching a beginners class very similar to the one I took with Bill. It's a nuts and bolts approach to fiction that may just kick start that novel you've been wanting to write. There's a description of the class over there in the sidebar>>>

And who knows -- maybe I'll piss you off...

Great Smokies Writing Program classes HERE
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11 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ha. arent you glad...and maybe he knew that or maybe he was just a jerk, but it sounds like he did the prep work to get you started...very cool...i would love to take a class on writing...

NCmountainwoman said...

I love this post. Ironic, isn't it, that the person who was a "terrific writer" put everything away and the one lacking "the passion" kept writing.

Vicki Lane said...

Bill was an excellent teacher and just the teacher I needed...

Ms. A said...

Guess it worked for you!

Lise said...

This sounds like a fantastic opportunity! I must say I'm so very glad you continued to write, I enjoy your novels very much!

Jim Egerton said...

I am not a writer. I am a photographer and do it for fun.

I love your books Vicki. Your characters and scenes are mesmerizing. Don't stop writing please.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Your story emphasizes the words, "follow your passion." If its what you love -- do it in spite of what someone tells you. -- barbara

Vagabonde said...

I guess Bill knew what to tell you to push you a bit. Well I am not interested in ever writing a book. It is hard for me to write my posts as it is. So many times I have to go to the translate site as I can speak English fluently but still, when I think of some unusual words, they come in French first. I also feel that my writing skills in English are OK, but don’t have that little, how should I say, well, I’ll say it in French then … that petit je ne sais quoi… to make my writing interesting. I love words and wish the right one would come to me instead of plain words – I want words that are full of grace, or beautiful meaning, and that is hard as my words don’t cooperate. But I know that your class will be a boost for some latent author.

Carolyn said...

Would love to take your class. Our second home is near Asheville and we're getting our primary home ready to put on the market so we can move there permanently. Don't know how long it will take to sell, of course, but hoping to be full time in the mountains by this summer. I hope you'll be offering it again.

Carolyn said...

Would love to take your class. Our second home is near Asheville and we're getting our primary home ready to put on the market so we can move there permanently. Don't know how long it will take to sell, of course, but hoping to be full time in the mountains by this summer. I hope you'll be offering it again.

Vicki Lane said...

Carolyn -- I'm sure I'll be teaching this in Asheville again in the future.

And how exciting -- Lise has signed up for the class!