The Mark Blog


Well, this is it: the final blog post, the report on the Final Review, the last duty of The Mark Program.  And what a wonderful Mark Program it has been.  I still can’t believe that it’s ending. 

Last week we met with Libby, Antoine, and Rob for the Final Review.  What made an impression on me throughout the meeting was the vast quantity of kindness and generosity.  This feeling has stayed with me as I have reflected on the experience. All three treated my work and effort with respect, and I feel tremendous gratitude for The Mark experience.  They could have rushed through the process (it is summer, vacation time, after all), but, luckily for me, their responses and feedback were thoughtful and thorough, offering me specific suggestions.
Bottom line, the manuscript isn’t there yet.  It’s getting closer, but it’s still not there.  I anticipated this verdict.  After submitting it, I sat down over a couple of days and read the PDF file I had submitted.  I made notes for changes—both on a grand and small scale.   But then my mind went into overdrive, and I started second guessing changes I had made.  I became confused.
The Final Review provided me with a clear idea of where to go from here.  The work involves lots of meditation on certain stories, followed by revision.   It also involves scrutinizing the language.  A positive note of feedback was that the structure I finally decided on was working.  That was a relief.  Sometimes, working in isolation, a writer doesn’t know how the bigger picture affects the reader.  However, there was one mention of a story potentially being cut from the collection.  It turns out this is a story I love for sentimental reasons.  Even as they discussed this possible deletion, my gut told me they spoke the truth.  There are times every person has to get rid of a piece of a project because that weak link simply isn’t working within the whole.  I can accept it.
The team also advised me to be careful with each word, each sentence throughout the book.  In his directives, Rob gave me a great piece of advice:  read every single sentence aloud and make sure it’s doing a job NO OTHER LINE CAN DO.  Cut everything you can.  My first thought was, “Oh my God, that’s going to take a long, long time.”  But then I remembered how time goes by anyway.  This is another tactic, another tool, to help me reach my goal. 
So, this is it.  Thank you to PEN Center USA for again investing in my growth.  Thank you to Libby, Antoine, and Rob for your constant support and insightful advice.  Thank you to Reid, Sasha, and Daniel, the professionals behind the scenes making the program and the blog work.  And thank you so much, kind readers, for your support, and for taking the time to read this.