May 2, 2016

Level Up, Dorothy!

Day 3 - WWMW SCBWI Conference

Kansas. Who wants Kansas, anymore?

In keeping with my first Oz-themed SCBWI blog post, I hereby declare myself a citizen of Oz (SCBWI),even if the road is pot-holed and - definitely - not paved with gold. This Dorothy wanted to stay with the munchkins...at least for a while longer!

I've met some truly kindred spirits and a critique group to boot! It doesn't happen every day, so you have to cherish it when  it does. You must dare to open the door and choose adventure.

Sunday morning, I received my manuscript critique from author Sarah Aronson.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into when I registered in February. This is a lifelong trend, friends. Jump! Sink or swim! Improvise! Whether getting married, teaching or raising kids, you name it - that's how I roll.

When I received the folder, I didn't really want to open it - not because I was afraid of rejection or failure. It was because I've loved every single brainy second of this weekend and wanted to keep a few crumbs for home.

You know, home.

The place with the room of broken promises - the laundry room - where machines promise to clean socks, only offering half of them back. The rest are held captive in another dimension.

It's that place with all those meandering, unfocused moments. Moments when one can't hear one's self think from the chorus of kids' grievances regarding the dinner menu.

The moments when one is out of one's favorite coffee, so one makes do with the super tangy Christmas cookie flavored coffee. Of course, it's a warm spring morning, and now one's brain is confused by Seasonal Seasoning Disorder. It can put one's whole day out of whack, and the effort to reorder life leaves one considering tinsel's hauntingly common properties with Easter basket grass. Are they cousins? Siblings? Is tinsel the overachieving eldest sibling? What kind of person decides to make tinsel for a living?

What kind of person falls down the rabbit hole - every - single- day - like this?

A writer, with swirling worlds trapped inside her head.

At WWMW SCBWI - 2016, Sarah Aronson answered, "So what?!" "Play More!"

In her session on "Starting With Character," I learned these types of thoughts yield multitudes of seeds for creating rich characters. And, that a beginning of something is better than the beginning of nothing.

Her critique told me to take my seed, give it good stakes, use the tools at hand, have fun - but, grow the damn thing! My boring fears are not nourishing this character, nor the story.

And she's 1000% correct.

WWMW SCBWI - 2016 has been pure oxygen.

An atmosphere offering critiques that inspire me to get my hands dirty, instead of shrugging my shoulders and walking away, is simply crucial for my creative life.

No longer will I be a stranger in a strange land. The writing life IS my home.

Time to LEVEL UP and play!