You might well be wondering where I went, and why I haven't done a post on this blog in such a long while. Simple answer: I've been working on a novel and attempting to get it published. I wrote it before I began teaching, and assumed that I would apply finishing touches over the summer vacations. Ha! Thirteen summers went by and while I read it a few times, making notes and fooling around with it, I was so totally fried after ten months of teaching high school English to my fourteen-year-olds, and the summers went by SO quickly, that I didn't get very far.
I realized that this stage in the process isn't done in isolation, so I registered for a one-day workshop at Sarah Lawrence, called Story Mapping, and that put my feet on the correct path. I wouldn't drive across country, or take a hike in unfamiliar terrain without a map. This workshop helped me understand what I needed to do to create a map that would help me find my way through my manuscript. A good chapter-by-chapter outline is also necessary throughout the revision process. So finally, I was on my way.
After a few more months of solo work, I received an email of course listings for the spring term at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute, and the blurb for "Advanced Novel" seemed just the thing for me at this point in the project. This manuscript served as my Master's Thesis when I earned my MA in Creative Writing at The City College of New York, but I was aware that at that point, it was just a good first draft and not yet publishable.
The problem with the program at City, was that my classmates would read a chapter, or perhaps thirty pages at a time to workshop, and only my friend Mary Rose, and my dear friend, and loyal mentor at Queens College, Dr. Bette S. Weidman, ever read the thing in its entirety. One truly needs feedback on the whole project. Bette and Mary helped me learn how to write a novel through their participation in this process, and I am eternally grateful for the time and attention they gave to my sophomoric drafts. (I blush at the thought of those primitive early drafts! Though perhaps they're ok considering that I actually was a sophomore.)
This advanced novel workshop is just six participants, and two instructors. We read and workshop each other's whole manuscripts. On the alternate weeks we do quickwrites, look at two pages in revision, and work on the craft.
A practice of writing every day again feels so good. There is a memoir or two tumbling around in here, and once I get the novel off my desk, I will work on those projects next. But summer is coming. (Yes. that's the opposite of Game of Thrones). It will be time to go camping and fly fishing with my friends in Sisters on the Fly. But I can write on those trips also, and probably will. And there are always blog posts to write, to keep in touch with you, dear reader. I promise that this time, it won't be months until my next post.