We’re traveling this week and next. While I’m able to keep up with the blog, I have to “let go” on the novel. Which is fine. I’m mentally “stuck” and am not sure what I should do, and a road trip is a welcome interruption.
This whole sanctification business is, for Catholics, a process of being refashioned within the mystery of the Incarnation. In becoming the the daughter of God I am meant to be, I’m becoming the writer I’m meant to be. But something in my writer’s brain – or heart – has not yet been “clicked on.” It’s that something that’s I feel holding me back right now. I do not have the ability to press forward and just tell the dang story.
(Then again, I’m getting “writer’s brain” in other ways. All sorts of things give me story ideas.)
I have been asking for the intercession of writing saints: St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and Bl. John Paul II. But that’s not all. I also have begun to ask for the intercession of writers (and one poet) I figure have a good chance of being “up there”: O’Connor, Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Belloc, and Hopkins. They’d understand my dilemma.
A few weeks ago, I asked for your advice on the best way to learn the craft – the techne – of fiction writing. I have no formal training in this; everything you read on this blog is me struggling to figure this out. I’m reminded of the Avett Brothers song, “Ten Thousand Words,”
“Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different
We love to talk on things we don’t know about”
which is perhaps the perfect aphorism for how things roll at A Naptime Novelist. Ahem.
Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that I’d like to share. If you have any more, please shout ‘em out. Open to the Holy Spirit, we are.
Option One: Formal training, i.e. “school”. Now, I’ve been out of school for nearly a decade. I have a toddler. God willing, we’ll have more kids soon. So going back to school isn’t exactly at the top of my list. However, writing is important enough to me to make the sacrifices of no sleep, no time, and a less-than-perfect house, should I decide to return to school. So far, these are my options:
Classes at the college where my husband will be teaching, come fall. This is an obvious choice. Faculty members have, as part of their benefit package, tuition benefits for themselves and their families (the percentage paid by the college increasing with the number of years of employment).
Two foreseeable problems: One, getting into a class. The most popular writing instructor is just that – popular. Registered students get first pick, of course, so I may have to enroll as a post-bacc student. I’ll have to ask if they do this. Two, the cost. Until my husband’s put in the number of years necessary to bring down the cost, I’m afraid it may be too expensive for our family.
UC Berkeley’s Post-Baccalaureate Writing Certificate. I’m excited about this possibility. Berkeley’s extension program offers two certificates: one in writing and the other in editing, all online. It’s designed for people like me, people who didn’t study writing as undergraduates. The cost seems reasonable. I don’t know anything about the quality of the program, but, so far, I’m intrigued.
Oregon State University. Oregon State is perhaps not the first school people think of for writing programs, so let me explain. I went to Oregon State for two terms and have a good handful of English credits hanging out there, unused, because St. John’s doesn’t accept transfer credits. Oregon State offers a writing minor through their online program, and they encourage post-bacc students to apply in order to add majors and minors to their degrees. They are all set up for students like me, and it’d be nice to apply those unused credits to something. The cost is reasonable.
Option Two: Writing Workshops and Conferences. I’ve mentioned these before. And there’s this one. And then there are the in-my-dreams workshops, here and here and especially here. Anyone love me enough to pay my way to Oxford?
Option Three: Writers’ Associations. My friend Roseanna shared that she has found much support for her writing through participation in writing associations. She suggested American Christian Fiction Writers and Oregon Christian Writers (Roseanna herself writes Christian fiction). I’ve also looked at The Catholic Writers Guild. Do you know of any – religious or non-sectarian – that you’d recommend?