Day Two: LLF LGBT Emerging Writer’s Retreat

Today’s blog is brought to you by broccoli – the vegetable that keeps on giving long after you have eaten it at lunch AND dinner.  Thank you, broccoli.

After today’s critique of my manuscript, I think I better understand how people with really creative and vocal multiple personalities must feel.  I mean, there you are, thinking your decision to take the bus downtown to wander the aisles of your favorite library seems like a good plan for a Sunday.  It’s what you, the real you, likes to do on Sunday.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s a good start to your day.  But then they chime in.  All these voices, offering ideas and changes and what ifs and maybe you coulds.   “What if you instead went to the zoo and fell into a vat of poisonous snakes? That would change your day up.”  “Maybe you miss the bus and walk into a robbery at 7 11.” “I think you should still go to the library, but I am confused about why you like it there?  What’s at stake for you at the library? Go deeper.”  Sigh.  I just like library. Can’t that be enough?  It can in life, but not in a book.

A book is different, I know.  Every word and page has to move your character forward, reveal truths, introduce tension, intrigue readers to turn the page.  I get that, and the worst part is, I thought I did that.  So close, yet so far.  Great voice, great dialogue, great pacing, action packed, but…

I’m not worried yet.  Like I do when I drive around in San Fran, I shall overcome this seemingly frightening and impossible task.

Last night was the faculty reading event. At first, I sat down on the inner aisle, mid way back, eager for the event to start  Then, it was like Les Mis all over again….a tall-y sat right in front of me. Being a tall-y myself, I know that she did not mean to block my way, but I wasn’t going to spend another exciting event craning my already injured neck to see the stars of the show.  So, I went for the ultimate in viewing pleasure- I moved myself to the front row, right smack in line with the podium.  I’ll admit, I did have a fear that the other fellows were calling me a goodie two shoes or kiss ass, but as the readers presented I heard every word and I felt like the luckiest girl in the room.  I could see their faces clearly and feel the boom of anger and the ripple of fear, the softness of defeat, the swirls of confusion.  I was in the cool black water with Alex Sanchez, feeling a mass of something unknown bump my leg. I was on the phone with Cris Beam , shouting, “I’ll take her,” before really knowing what I had said, but knowing that it had to be done. I was on a trolley car with Jewelle Gomez as it rambled through town, mesmerized, too, by the survivor’s numbers, wanting so badly to look at her face but knowing that I had to be polite and not stare.  Finally, I was behind that white counter with Dorothy Alison.  The fluorescent lights trying to tell the world that I was under attack, that silver and black gun knocking against my forehead, and he’s shouting at us, “I could kill you!” I am with her and I feel that shift in my body, in my blood, and we are not leaving that goddamn store- no we are not.

Hands down- best seat in the house.

Conclusions from Day 2 of my retreat:

  • Broccoli is not invited to Day 3
  • Feedback is great.
  • It’s front row for me from now on.

Ok, time to go work out, review my manuscripts, and meet up with my posse of YA writers.  Here’s to another amazing day surrounded by amazing people.


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