Sunday, January 13, 2013

Advice From a Mentor...

Whenever the school year begins, my writing has to be put aside - at least for awhile. I don't know why, but when January rolls around I seem to be able to squeeze in regular writing time again. Today I dusted off one of my manuscripts - the one this close (holds up finger and thumb to show an inch) to being ready for submission. After so long a time it's hard to wrap my mind around the process again, but it's also nice to have some distance from the writing. I regain a sense of perspective about the work, and it's easier to make cuts, see plot holes, or appreciate that you've done something well. I really like that last one.

I've been fortunate on several occasions to spend significant one-on-one time with a wonderful lady named Patti Gauch. She is not one to hem or haw about what needs to be said. She will often preface a manuscript session with, "Our time is precious, so let's get right to it." And she does. Thorough is her middle name. Her advice is rich and dense with pointed observations and suggestions. It sometimes takes days to mentally sort through and process what she has said. She can be tough, but I feel like I'm a stronger writer because of her.  

Each time I have a significant hiatus from writing, I pull out a list of my favorite Patti-isms and re-read them before I begin. It helps me focus, so I thought I share them with you.
  • Go to the well
  • Tell one hell of a tale
  • Keep voice front and center
  • Don't be stodgy
  • Get it all down first
  • Set it aside
  • Do it again...
  • Ask yourself: Does it go far enough?
  • Is it sassy enough?
  • Be extreme enough when making a point.
  • Don't pussyfoot around!
  • Make the reader worry. It means they care.
So there you have it. Wonderful advice from a mentor. Now back to work, everyone! 

Keep writing,

Because It Made Me Laugh...