I've written in the past about some of the writing conferences I have attended over the years. At those conferences, I learned about things like plot points and point of view. I learned about dialogue tags, the dangers lurking behind adverbs and that characters must want something if they are to be interesting. I came to understand pacing, theme and tone.
At those conferences, I ate too much cheese cake, stayed up late too many nights, drank too much coffee. I discovered that my writing needed to have a voice and that the only way to find one was to keep writing, day after day, in hopes that eventually, a voice would bubble up. I came to appreciate the rules of the craft, and more importantly, the consequences of violating those rules without very good cause.
Perhaps one of the most important things I learned from a conference occurred when I was nearing the end of writing BENT ROAD. I was speaking with the instructor about why I had chosen to begin the novel where I did, about the plot points I had identified, about the point-of-views I had chosen, and the structure of the last few chapters. That was all well and good, he said. But don’t forget the art of it.
As I’m nearing the last stage of writing my next book, something I know because I find myself nauseous from reading, editing and revising so many versions, I am remembering that piece of advice. So on this, my final revision, I will set aside the rules and remember the art of it.