Always be closing. It’s not just for real estate salesmen. It’s for writers like me. Writers who are so close to finishing their books, they can physically taste it, see it in the bookstore window, feel the smooth cover when they sign a copy. Perhaps even one day in the near future, look back on this post and say, “Remember when?”
The Mark Program is not even in full swing yet and I already feel that my writerly I.Q. has risen dramatically. It began with the “Defense.” What’s that, you wonder?
It’s me sitting in a room with four other writers asking questions about why I wrote what I wrote over the past seven years.
It’s four writers burrowing into every corner of my novel demanding explanations for the decisions I made while writing.
It's a literary ambush.
And I survived. I didn’t breakdown. I did the best I could which is exactly what this program wants for me. Even though I was catatonic by the hour’s end, a sudden calm came over me as I experienced an epiphany: all of the questioning, the doubting, the frustration, was worth it because these four talented writers believe in me and only want the best for my writing.
The questions asked were good questions. Questions I hadn’t asked myself about my characters, my point-of-view or my structure. These questions actually made me feel better. I knew how I could make the work better. This happened in only one hour so I can imagine the value of five months of feedback from the same people as well as the other participants.
Speaking of participants, the lovely Shanna Mahin
and the talented Carl Peel
, I am impressed with the level of both of their projects. Going forward, I can see that their feedback will be just as valuable as the books they are writing. The Los Angeles lumen, the iconic Samantha Dunn
, is our advisor, guiding our projects into the view of the publishing world. Finally, Alan Watt
treated us to a free workshop of his the day after our defenses. In his mind-blowing workshop I learned that we should regress to a child and simply continue to ask why of ourselves as writers and of our characters.
Because of those “why's” I feel that the dream of finishing my novel is closer that it ever has been, that even in doubt there is wisdom, and that I am not the only one who believes in it. Because of those “why’s,” I feel the possibilities for the work multiply and challenge my ability as a writer. Because they asked why, I must answer.
At the end of this program, I hope to have a good enough answer. An answer that is the best I have to offer and that will inspire others to ask why in their own lives and in our society. Until then, I question therefore I write.