She liked it…she really, really liked it!
Just got back from my weekend Master Class workshop in Guelph. It was led by Barbara Kyle who is a delightful woman who has published international bestsellers, mainly in the historical romance genre. There were ten of us from across southern Ontario – nine women and one man.
At the beginning of the month, in preparation for the session, each of us submitted 30 pages – a partial – from the beginning of our novels. What a diverse group we were – a fantasy piece that takes places in a community situated in Trees – we’re not sure whether it’s post-apocalyptic or another world – that didn’t become clear to me. There were a couple of writers of period romance – highwaymen and pirates. Another murder-crime novel about a hit man that was very intense and well written. One about a young lad growing up in a fishing village in Newfoundland in the early 90s – very vivid language and strong characters. Another about a young girl in small town 30 years ago who becomes pregnant but the father dies and she has to make a life for herself and her son. A 50-something woman whose husband decides they should have a rescue dog. She convinces him to adopt a St. Bernard and a mutt and when he tells her to choose between him and the animals, she chooses them. A social worker who doesn’t do very well on the job and has her own problems with a 16 year old daughter.
And then there’s mine, about a 42 year old woman whose life swerves from decades of a routine marriage, kids and job after her mother dies suddenly and her husband finds his soul mate at bible class. Just after our afternoon break, before we started on the critique of my 30 pages, Barbara pulled me aside. Oh oh, I thought. She said she wanted a word so that I wouldn’t be shocked later on when there weren’t a lot of comments from my cohorts. How come? Then came the shocker.
She loved my work. It was very, very good, she said. There wasn’t much to critique. Sure, there were typos and some discontinuities and factual stuff about university chancellors to correct, but otherwise, the writing was crisp, the protagonist and the secondary characters were well drawn and the situations kept the reader engaged from page to page. I was gobsmacked. To hear that positive feedback coming from someone I admire took my breath away. The one thing I have to keep doing is putting my prime character in more danger so that she can get herself out of it.
Wow, wow. Wow. What have I learned? That if I work hard enough and long enough, my work is good enough to be ‘out there’ in the world. Courage, perseverance, two long days of intense concentration. Yeah, I can do this, as my protagonist says.
Right now, I’m over the moon.