At the start of September I alluded to a new development that I've been working on all summer long. I've been reading, analyzing, and otherwise prepping for an exciting change of direction for my writing life.
I'm a big fan of the Story Grid podcast, featuring editor Shawn Coyne and book marketer and writer Tim Grahl. Together they present an hour of deep editing work every week, and I've been an obsessive listener for nearly two years. I've taken writing classes and talked to editors and writers about their methods for cutting a book and getting it into shape, but as an inveterate pantser (read: I can't outline to save my life), I've never been able to find a method that would help me to preserve my direct line to the Muse while ensuring that I don't dance off into the sunset with non-productive scenes featuring hand-wringing and sighs of woe. I've explored all kinds of methods for planning a novel, and none of them work.
The Story Grid works, because it leaves me alone to write, while keeping me on track. It's brilliant.
In May, I took a deep breath and signed up for the Story Grid Editing Certification workshop in Nashville. I knew that Story Grid was going to be my editing weapon as I worked through my plans to write and publish, but I wanted more. More, more, more. I wanted to live and breathe this stuff for a week alongside other Story nerds. But this was a change for me. It was a plane ride, a hotel stay, and an investment in my writing life as a career, not a hobby. I was leaving people at home to take over my various responsibilities. I was assigned homework–lots of reading and scene analysis that we would be discussing live in the classroom.
So despite reading the Story Grid text and spending many months obsessively listening to the podcast, I was nervous.
Why should I be nervous, right? This is a workshop like any other. I'll learn, make friends, and develop the Story Grid tools that I've come to respect and use in my own work.
The “workshop like any other” part is complete garbage. This isn't a workshop like any other.
First of all, the cast of characters is different. Shawn Coyne is the kind of experienced, successful New York editor who would have dashed off one of my many rejections back in the day. Tim Grahl is a book marketer who understands the marketplace for the literary arts, something I'm afraid I'll never be able to do, but must learn if I want writing to be a career. They intimidate the heck out of me.
Second, I love listening to the podcast because I feel I can actually hear the creative process happening. Some have told me that they find it hard to implement the Story Grid methodology because the podcast feels vague. I don't feel that way at all. The conversation between Tim and Shawn echoes what goes on in my head, except that Shawn brings structure to it. I can't believe I'm going to actually be in that conversation!
Third, I think imposter syndrome is the single biggest obstacle to any kind of creative work. And ridiculously (just look at this website!), I'm afraid that maybe I'm just a fraud.
I'll let y'all know how it goes. I'm posting this in the spirit of sharing…but I'm nervous!