Writing and Waiting: Getting the help I needed
Writing this novel, I originally thought I could complete it on my own in a few months. Almost three years later, I had accumulated nearly four hundred pages, but they were not in sequence. They weren’t even in any logical order. What I had was four hundred pages of nonsense that I didn’t know how to fix, so what was I to do?
I had been as much a fixture at the New York Public Library as the dust on the shelves. An advocate for self-help, I was an ‘Idiot’ before I was a ‘Dummy;’ however I had sense enough to realize how-to books would not teach me everything I needed to know about the art of fiction. To amply develop my piece, I needed to take a class somewhere.
The problem was MFA programs were expensive and the only workshops I knew of were time consuming. As a wife and mother of two, I did not know if I could spare the time or afford the added expense. I am not sure if those were ‘problems’ as much as they were ‘excuses.’ But I have to admit, I let a lot of obstacles stop me, until I found strength to pray my way through.
When I came across a notice for a one-day workshop offered by The Writing Center—then organized by Marymount Manhattan College—I signed up. The workshop was called Begin That Novel. But having amassed nearly four hundred pages, I already had characters, scenes, and dialogue. They were all over the place, but they were there. I had long since begun the writing process. That workshop may not have been a good match for me at that time. It was, however, a step in the right direction.
Then, one day, I was at a neighbor’s. Unbeknownst to me, she happened to be a published author. She told me about her book. I told her about the story I was trying to put together. Immediately, she recommended the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center. I called. When I spoke to the program’s organizer, he told me they were offering an 8-week novel writing workshop that summer. This was perfect for me. I registered for it.
I have since registered for and completed many writing workshops. I’ve been blessed, not only to study under some of my favorite authors but also to complete my work. Through prayer, every step along the way, I received what I needed to take me to the next step…and the next. There’s help out there, but the real ‘help’ comes from above. So my advice to anyone with a positive goal in mind is to stay prayerful and be persistent.
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