Nothing like taking a hiatus from blogging to make you realize how much you miss writing!
With the holidays comes traveling and time spent snuggling your sisters, kissing on your newborn niece, and not reading/writing/reviewing books. I did get back to my all-time favorite, Peter Pan. But like... why review something that's amazing and classic and perfect?
Let's talk about January. The pinnacle of everyone's crazy resolutions, motivational posters, and Facebook slaps about how I need to get off my butt and do something. So... I'm back to blogging. I guess if everyone else is losing 20lbs and becoming thriving entrepreneurs, the least I can do is finish Draft 3 of my novel and tell you about it!
But I'll do that later. I'm actually going to start a new series based off a new Masterclass I'm taking! My parents have been so supportive of my writing career ever since I came home from school, lied about my day, and told them it was a story. I was really into alt reality. Thus began my storytelling career. Dad gave me his old work laptop which was literally a brick and indestructible. I wrote some teleplays about a girl with 8 brothers (I really wanted an older brother, okay?). They bought me Movie Magic Screenwriter CD-ROM one Christmas and off I went. That made high school bearable because I was channeling my teen feelings into a fictional teen. And it was cheaper than therapy.
I was actually pretty bad at it, though. One of these days I'll brush off some episodes and post them here. Hahahahahahah. But every writer aims to make their next thing their best thing, right?? So when I graduated high school, I decided writing screenplays and majoring in film was not in my cards. I got scared and wanted a "traditional" job to keep the lights on and to eat. So I chickened out and went to UGA (no regrets, go dawgs!!) instead of an art school. It's fine, I never would've survived. And I never much liked turning an art into a science, so it was for the best. Did I mention I was REALLY bad?
Fast-forward to my junior year of college when I had so many ideas floating around in my brain, I could hardly stand it. I wrote a couple more screenplays which were more or less regurgitated rom-coms. I penned my very first book in Microsoft Word. It was about 55K and was totally about me and my boyfriend. I finally finished it, printed it on my 2007 desktop printer, and put it in a binder for him one Valentine's Day. We've been married since 2012 and he has yet to read it.
But I soldiered on! A writer doesn't need a reader. Just a blank page and free refills at Jittery Joe's coffeehouse. I wrote my next book in Word as well. Now this was when laptops starting fading out CD-ROMs, so this 90's kid was freaking out! How will I ever use another writing program again?? How do you even get it onto your computer if there isn't a disc drive?! You'd never believe I was the child of a computer programmer. These were real problems that kept me up at night, y'all.
About the time I got sick of writing sequentially in Word, I found a group of fellow writers in my city. It was the best thing I could've asked for, and has straight up changed the way I write. They're my best friends and I couldn't have asked for better comrades. They were also WAY smarter than me and showed me Scrivener. I told Mom and Dad all about it, and guess what was waiting for me under the tree that Christmas? A promo code for a Scrivener download wrapped in a CD-ROM case. It was kind of poetic.
That software changed. my. world. Gone was the pressure of writing chapters 1-20 in that order. Gone was the hideous beast of an ms in need of editing when all you have is search/replace, navigation panes, and 300+ pages of pure garbage. Word made getting from draft 1 to draft 2 almost impossible. So I skipped that part and rarely edited because it was too dang hard. But Scrivener (no CD-ROM required) made writing creative and fun again.
I still used Word from time to time, but I did all my plotting, story boarding, and drafting in Scrivener. But I was still rusty in a dozen ways. I wanted to LEARN. And once you're out of college, you kinda have to get creative in how you learn. I ADORE conferences, but I work a day job and can't throw out thousands of dollars to travel to all the amazing events. I saw this thing called Masterclass on social media and was really interested in the class with James Patterson. It was like a writers' conference session online. It took you from story idea to polished manuscript with 5-6 weeks of pre-recorded video lessons, class workbook assignments, and a forum to connect with other writers!
And guess what was waiting for me under the tree this year? Not a CD-ROM! It was a Masterclass with James Patterson cleverly tucked into a new mirror for my writing desk. That was totally Mom's doing. We saw Sarah J. Maas speak in Atlanta last summer, and one of her favorite writing tools is a mirror so she can act out dialogue and better describe facial expressions. Brilliant.
I started the lessons last week and am trying to pace myself! There's so much I want to learn about the craft and the industry, but I know I need a couple of days to let each lesson sink in. I want to savor every last bit! And I want to share with you what I learn. Plus, the best way to retain info is to teach it to someone else. To keep the integrity of the course and the hard-working people behind Masterclass, I won't be detailing every last bit of the lesson. I will, however, give you my take on Patterson's wisdom and tell you what I've learned throughout the process. I hope you'll join me :)
If you're interested in doing Masterclass yourself, I can already tell you it's worth every penny! They have classes from all kinds of professionals, but if you're a writer, check out the classes by James Patterson (writing), Judy Blume (writing), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriting), Shonda Rhimes (writing for television), and David Mamet (dramatic writing).