Who knew it snowed like this in May in Tahoe? At the Novel Immersion workshop at the Granlibakken just over Donner Pass (remember the one where people died?), dainty little snowflakes danced amongst the cherry blossoms. Hours later they turned into what seemed like a blizzard right before my eyes.
I asked my roommate Susan if she wanted a ride back down the hill to our room. What should have been a one minute drive morphed into a 30 minute ordeal with us sliding sideways down a hill and nearly into a rocky ditch with no control whatsoever over my car. At one point she jumped out and made tracks with her shoes so my car could get some traction. It worked and we made it to our room.
I couldn’t help thinking how similar that was to writing. You take off often unprepared for where your story might go. Sure you have some semblance of an outline (maybe), but characters evolve and make choices you may not have seen coming. You go with it and you write your story. You think it makes sense. You think it’s beautiful. Then you pick it up after some time and it’s a mess and you wonder whose eyes read this before because it certainly couldn’t have been yours.
And so you invite someone to read your work, critique it, give you feed back. You think there might be a quick fix to your 100th revision. But as you sit and listen, you suddenly realize that writing years are like dog years and there is nothing quick about this process. What helps you get there, to that point when you see what needs to be done, is someone hopping out of the car and helping you make tracks in the muddle so you can get some traction and stop sliding down the hill.
That’s what makes weekends like this one invaluable. A group of writers, editors, agents–people who care about books–helping each other make each story the best it can be. It may be magical at first, then a bit stormy and perhaps feel a little out of control. But in the morning, when the sun comes up and the day shows what the storm has created, it’s back to magical–times five.
That’s why I write.