It was a typical July day as I walked up the stairs to the third floor at the Loft for the last segment on “How To Write A Novel”. The month was almost over and the outside air was finally cooling down from the high of ninety-six degrees. As we again gathered waiting for Kate, there was sadness mixed in with our normal anticipation. This was it. The last time we would meet before beginning our journeys.
Kate purposely walked to her chair and summarized the topics we would cover. With pens poised above our various sources of notepaper, we waited to soak in the last bits of knowledge she would impart.
She opened with how to deal with a mental block and then moved quickly through several points on how to self analyze the decisions we would be making as we composed. These covered plot, point of view, time frame, sub-plot and whether or not our climax worked. We then took a collective breath and shifted to a slightly slower pace. Kate had us complete a group exercise to illustrate how well we really knew our main character.
Then we ramped up our note taking by going through a style checklist. Kate mixed in advice with practical points on language and approach. She ended by encouraging us to give our writing the wisdom we have about life. Write with authority. Tell yourself that what you know is valid and that your observations are correct. Incorporate what you know about people and life into your novel. My note taking was so furious that the wisdom of these words did not sink in until I had later rewritten my notes and read them over several times.
The sprint ended with a segment on how to get it all done. In short, set a timetable for completion. Take additional classes on technique. Go to writing conferences. Network with other writers and published authors. And finally my favorite: Writing is the art of keeping your butt in the chair.
As the class ended we all expressed our gratitude for her insights and assistance. I waited until most of my classmates had left to personally thank her for helping me. As I approached, she was just ending a discussion with another student. When she turned toward me, I told her how much I enjoyed the class and appreciated all the information she gave us. She acknowledged me with a nod of her head and then surprised me. “I am looking forward to reading your novel”. My first reaction was to laugh out loud. “Why would anybody read my musing?” Then I simply said, “Thank you”.
Walking down the stairs and through the building into the soft night air, I realized Kate was just giving me encouragement. Smiling, I got into my car, pressed down on the brake pedal, and pushed the power button. As the engine came to life, I said to myself, “I can’t wait until she actually reads it!” I knew then, come hell or high water, I was going to finally write a novel.