Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Toughest Workshop To Give

STATUS: I know it’s hard to believe but I just forget to blog yesterday. It hit my mind around 4 pm. I told myself I needed to do 2 more things and then pop on to blog. I did my tasks, left for home, didn’t even think about it later as I often blog from home. I just totally forgot.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SOLITARY MAN by Chris Isaak

Tonight, along with Agent Kate Schafer Testerman, I’m speaking at the Smiley library for our local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). The workshop is full so if you're local, you won't be able to just pop in.

Kate and I are going to do the two pages workshop. This is the class where participants bring the opening 2 pages of their manuscript. We pretend that we are sitting in our office reading the slush pile. If we would have stopped reading, we say “stop” and then we explain why.

I always do this workshop with much trepidation. You got to be ready for brutal honesty. It’s so not for the faint of heart. There’s a big difference between getting a rejection letter by email versus being told so at point blank—regardless of how nice or helpful we try to be when being so bluntly honest. And that is our goal tonight. Encouraging, helpful, but not pulling the punch.

A lot of what we’ll hear tonight will be from writers who aren’t quite ready for agent time. That’s not to say that these writers won’t ever be—just that they haven’t reached the spot yet. The only reason I continue to do this workshop is that I get tons of emails from participants afterwards that tell me how helpful it was. I’m always stunned. Really? I think it would just be painful but okay.

They say it was tough and it took time for them to process but in the end, they wanted to hear what wasn’t working rather than continue on without knowing why.

That’s valid. Still, I think I might be more nervous than the writers who will be there! Okay, maybe not but I’m going to run a close second.

And speaking of this workshop, I’ll be doing it at the Backspace Conference which is coming up at the end of may. There are two weeks left for the general public to register so if you are interested, you might want to check it out.