Urg. This is one of those mornings when I feel like crawling far, far into my little dark hole and not coming out until Spring.
Natalie Whipple has a post up at "Between Fact and Fiction" about Honing Talent. She talks about the difference between dabbling and really learning your craft. At one point she says:
"It wasn't until I sought real, technical training that I improved. It wasn't until I treated my story like a potential masterpiece that it got better. It wasn't until I trained under a few "masters" that I really started to understand this story-telling business."
Now, in case you don't know who Natalie Whipple is, she is the mom who wowed Nathan Bransford with the first paragraph of her YA novel "Relax, I'm a Ninja" in his 2008 contest and ended up being represented by him, to the great envy of all his other followers. She currently has two debut novels in the works.
Anyway, I totally understand what Natalie is saying about training. I have looked at several writing courses over the years, some for college credit costing as much as a thousand bucks, some much more affordable. I have never been to a writer's conference, but would love to go to one. I kind of want to wait, however, until I have a manuscript to sell. Otherwise, I don't see how I could justify the expense.
Training costs money. As it should. To learn from the experience of another, more successful craftsman is a time-honored method of paying ones dues, both literally and figuratively. I wish very much for that experience.
But... it's not happening any time soon. Which makes me wonder, yet again, if I'm just wasting my time trying to write without it. As Natalie says, "Just writing—just getting those words on the paper—isn't quite enough. I wrote a lot of books that are basically at the same crappy level."
This is why I haven't rushed to finish this novel I've been working on for the past three years. I don't want it to be crappy. But figuring things out on my own takes an awfully long time.
Some questions for you:
What courses, if any, have you taken? How valuable do you think they were? And what experiences do you think improved your writing the most?