|Judy, hard at work on her new laptop computer.|
Writing is a solitary pursuit, no doubt about it. We sit alone with our thoughts, tapping away at a keyboard for hours on end. And when we have finished our story, we turn away from our quiet effort and risk a “show and tell.” We let others in. A critique group, a generous friend, a family member. And sometimes, we take our words to a workshop where we lay our printed offspring bare to strangers.
At the beginning of November I took my newly completed YA fantasy novel to an editing workshop run by the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It was a three day editing workshop led by editor and publisher Stephen Roxburgh, who I met at a Highlights Workshop in Chautauqua, NY.
There were six of us writers and Stephen. Our time was divided between group sessions and one-on-one meetings. The group sessions were informative, as Stephen is a very good teacher. He led us through the nitty-gritty of plot development, explaining the difference between plot and story. He taught us about writing revisions. About the difference between copy editing and re-visioning our work. About the difference between “fiddling” with the book and examining the big issues. I had a feeling as he was leading this group session that many of the warning signs Stephen mentioned in the class pertained to my book. I was not in error.
It was quite amazing that a publisher like Stephen Roxburgh would take the time to read six novels before he arrived then take us through our works in detail. Labor intensive and time consuming, it is an effort that results in something many authors never, never get from an expert: personal attention to every aspect of a novel.
I would love to say my novel was so good I had no revising to do and I could just get on with the sequel. But I got something more valuable: I got direction in revising my story. I got kudos for the good aspects and blunt force trauma to the weak parts. And the strangest thing, the part I can’t explain to anyone, is the fact that I am happy to keep the three pages out of two hundred plus that will be included in my revision. I am happy to be starting over with a clearer vision of exactly what matters in my story. I am not starting from scratch. I am starting from inspiration.
Judy Beglau lives half the year in Austin, TX and half in the mountains of New Mexico. She started out writing children's musicals, and now is writing picture books, a young adult novel, and write-for-hire projects for Augsburg Fortress Press including hymns and adult devotionals.