May 6, 2010

A Knock-Out Writing Lesson

by Kari Diane Pike

Clean house -check
Do Laundry-check
Pack for trip to Arizona - check
Spend about thirty hours driving during Spring break: Phoenix, Tucson, chauffeur teens around to see their friends, and return to Utah - check
Get hugs and kisses from Grandchildren - check
Come home sick and spend the next 4 days in bed - check
Try to convince teens to help clean the house for anticipated company - =-(
Clean house myself - check
Wish Hubby "Happy Anniversary" - check
Greet family and friends with hugs/smiles (Try not to cough on them) - check
Attend LDStorymaker's Conference -check
Attend Whitney Awards - check
Get ready for more company - check
Attend Woman's Conference - check
More company - check
Try not to cry when all the company leaves -;oP

Obviously I didn't have time to sneak in very much writing during the month of April. To be completely honest, after the first session I attended at Storymaker's, I didn't know if I would ever write anything again. The class turned out to be much different than I expected. I felt like a boxer who entered the ring without any conditioning or training. These were "real" writers, who held "real" books in their hands...books that they wrote. I defended myself the only way I could. I took notes. When the class ended, I patted my bruised ego, took a deep breath (ouch!) and trudged up the lobby stairs for Round 2. There, Janette Rallison instructed, entertained, and gave me hope that I could still be on my feet after Round 3. Thanks, Janette!

Round 3. Historical Fiction Writing by Gale Sears.
I decided years ago that I am not a fiction writer. Just stick to the facts Ma'am! Since the project I have been working on requires a great deal of research, I decided that Gale's class came the closest to what I needed. I squared my shoulders, took up my pen, and (I threw that in to show that I have picked up some of the culture up here.) I fell in love with the idea of writing historical fiction. My heart pounded. My stomach fluttered. I wanted to jump up and twirl on my toes. (Can you tell I'm not a romance writer, either?) By the time Round 3 ended, I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I ran to the Ballroom to share my excitement with Deirdre Koppell and my daughter-in-law Christin. Gale Sears walked by our table and I wanted to grab her and hug her and tell her thank you and hug her some more. But I was cool. I shook her hand politely and expressed my gratitude with finesse and grace. I told her how inspired I felt and a little about my ideas. Gale couldn't have been more gracious. She seemed to think I could actually write something. Then she grabbed a piece of paper and said, "Here is my e-mail. I want you to keep in touch with me. I want to see your progress. If I can help you, let me know." Wow. Gale Sears wants to help me. But wait. I was just kidding. I can't really write. I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm a fake. I just pretend to be a writer. Knock out. I had no idea I have a glass jaw.

Fortunately, Storymakers sends in comedy relief every few hours. (Thanks Marion Jensen, aka Matthew Buckley). Then keynote speaker (and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award) Dave Farland/Wolverton taught me how to train for my writing:
*Begin networking now - check
*Take writing classes, read books on writing, join a critique group - (working on that..go ANWA)
*Learn about audience analysis - (How?)
*Treat it as a business - look professional, sound competent, etc. - (Hmmm..needs work!)
*Learn to be confident speaking in public - (I can do that!)
*Practice frequently - (NOW!)
*Prepare phyisically - exercise, be beautiful (This one took me by surprise)
*Research the world - study people, develop your own insight and wisdom (love this)
*Prepare emotionally - (No kidding. Can plastic surgeons fix glass jaws?)
*Write about what is most important to you (Do I know what is important to me?)
*Prepare spiritually - Be careful about what you are teaching. Every book has its agenda. As LDS
writers, we should share insights about how to be more like the Savior -
even if it is very subtle. (Start paying more attention to what I read)

Then Brother Farland said something that changed my thinking forever.

"There are a lot of people who need what we have."

I am no longer in a boxing ring. I am a writer.


  1. Your article is wonderful. Just this week I have been riding the roller coaster between doubt and hope that I am or ever could be a fiction writer. Thank you for timely words of encouragement! I didn't make it to Storymakers this year but hope I can be a part of next year's program. Thanks!!

  2. You ARE a writer! Thank you for your thoughts and reviews on Storymakers. You captures some great points from Bro Farland's talk. Thanks for taking notes. Before I went to Utah for the week, I thought I'd have oodles of time there to write but spent the whole time doing family stuff. Now that I'm home, I haven't got back into the daily habit. I'll start today!

  3. What an absolutely beautiful and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Great post - It was great to meet you at storymakers. I had forgotten that Dave had said that at the end, but another presenter said it to in a similar way and it has stayed with and I think is one of the most important things a writer can know.

  5. Thank you so much for all the kind comments! I love this group!

  6. I LOVED Gale, too, AND I'm doing an historical. You can email me too. I'd love to see what you're up to.


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