Saturday, May 9, 2015

Struggle

I've been struggling lately.

Struggling with revising a novel. Struggling with building an online class. Struggling with being a better person.

Where has all this gotten me? To be honest, it's gotten me very tired. But yesterday I learned an important lesson from a very gifted teacher.

Charlotte Gullick is an author and creative writing teacher in Austin, TX, and I spent the day with her--along with 20 other writers who've been struggling with their revision process. Charlotte broke down the process for us and then she gave us time to play with different perspectives, suggestions, and strategies.

Aha! In six hours I discovered the process for unraveling the twisted parts of my manuscript and filling in where it is threadbare. But that's not all. I also discovered I could apply what I learned about revising to my creating an online course that is engaging and my developing into the woman I long to be.

The Aha moment came with the way Charlotte had us break down the process into one specific element at a time. Instead of attacking the mammoth manuscript all at once, she advised us to rate each craft element (plot, point of view, verb choices, etc.). Each revision draft focuses on one craft element only, so the writer can concentrate on what needs her attention.

I can do that with my manuscript now, and I am so excited and so ready.

Over the last six weeks, I have built an online class for English 1301 that, now that it is finished, I absolutely "hate" what I've done. There is no pacing, no rhythm, no enjoyment. But I have hope. I'm going to revise the course, one element at a time, and make it sizzle. I believe I can do that now, thanks to Charlotte's class.

Lately, I have been hard to get along with. My sweetie says I've lost my sense of humor--that I take everything wrong, that I'm so fast to pick a fight. As I think about Charlotte' class yesterday, I recall the title for her course was "Honing the Spark," because she thinks it is crucial for us to remember and embrace the spark that first led us to undertake a full-fledged novel. That spark is what sustains us as we revise and move from good to better to great. I think remembering the spark is important for relationships as well.

Ronnie felt an instant spark, he says, when he first met me. He says it was my smile that grabbed his heart that day almost four years ago when I walked in the restaurant. For me, the spark came later and took awhile to ignite. I'd been badly burned before and not so quick to be dazzled. But he is the love of my life, and I want to be the woman he deserves. So today, I will focus on the spark and let go of my petty-mindedness that leads only to regret. And tomorrow I will focus on another element of my love for him so I become more of the woman I want to be.

Thank you, Charlotte, for a map for revising my manuscript, and the other important things in my life!