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Friday, February 8, 2013
12:00 AM | Posted by Maureen | | Edit Post
As some of you may know, I’m the president of my local Romance Writers of America chapter. We’re a very small group, less than two dozen members. But! We are lucky that we are just over the hills – the Santa Cruz Mountains – of the Silicon Valley RWA Chapter. And they’re pretty big. Also Black Diamonds in the Bay Area, etc.
Which means we don’t hold conferences or host big names (can’t pay for them, for one thing), but we are close to chapters that can bring these people to our area. So, I’ve attended a Donald Maas all day workshop, a Deb Dixon workshop and an Angela James workshop.
We also have a fair amount of writers within reach. And those? We tempt them to come and talk to us, plus we have several published writers in our chapter. We try to host someone every other month, though this year, my new VP opted to get speakers the first half of the year and we’ll work on writing the second half. Plus our holiday party and a few months off during the summer, when we’re at big conferences.
So, why am I babbling about this?
Well, we had Tina Folsom late last year and invited members from the other chapters and did pretty well. She’s local to the Bay Area. And a last week, we had Shelley Bates come speak to us. Hal knows Shelley, since she teaches a master class at Seton University. I know her from doing Steampunk workshops with her last year at Clockwork Alchemy, in San Jose.
She lives up on the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Shelley also writes as Adina Senft. Amish romance. And she does well! She self publishes a YA Steampunk series and she does well! And the woman is brilliant. She held all dozen of us mesmerized.
Her topic was “World Building Through Your Characters’ Eyes.”
I have the notes I took. Not many, but I do have the hand out. And she covered character perception and home and how to use setting to work inward and reveal and…and…and… If only my brain could make use of this information!
I sat center, I watched, I listened! I understood! But I couldn’t relate what she was saying to what I do, period. I honestly couldn’t think of examples from what I write, or how I could do this or that…nada.
Her words went in one ear and out the other. Understood and fondled, but they made no connection to my inner writer. I talked with her after and finally found a metaphor I could use to understand her talk with us.
She was talking about the soundtrack! The motif of characters, the underlying layer that builds, adds but isn’t intrusive. It carries the story forward and helps the reader taste the richness, the spice…experience the magic under the words. Thru words! But not in-your-reader’s -face, let-me-explain-this words.
I can understand a soundtrack, the subtle nature. How it adds without distraction.
I can’t decipher Shelley’s presentation. I’m simply blind that way. I don’t know if it’s my superstitious nature, (I suspect it is), but I have a block when it comes to using the wonderful aspects of teachers like Shelley.
Luckily, she’s very understanding and actually, when we did the panels together, we complement each other’s techniques quite well. She’s a plotter, a planner, a creatively detailed writer. I’m a wild card.
I attend lecture, workshops, conferences…and I listen. I pay attention. With my creative writing mind acting like a four-year-old, fingers in ears, singing la-la-la-la-la. My intuitive mind is very present. I can analyze, discuss the topic in regards to other books, or movies…but not my writing.
Terri has seen this. I am so damned oblivious.
I hope that eventually, the information seeps into what I do…without my having to think too deeply on it.
Because I’m an idiot and fear that if I totally understand what I do, I won’t be able to do it anymore. I need to believe it’s magic.
How about you? Are you able to make the connection between what you write and what you learn in lectures? Does it come together for you all at once? During? After? Ever?