Got Revelation?(Ceci n’est pas une GoT post.)

A local client of mine, another baseball aficionado and HSP (highly sensitive person) who came to cheer on my softball team last night, brought with him to our last editing meeting a copy of Good Prose, by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. He wanted to read portions of it aloud to me. Who doesn’t love to be read aloud to over a milkshake?

After our meeting, we walked straight over to the bookstore and I ordered my copy. I’m about to dive into a full five weeks of final revisions (I mean it this time, this is IT!) on my novel, Outta Here!, after having received some “just right” insight two weeks ago. Funny how you can go through years of workshopping a piece or a manuscript, how other agents you’ve queried can suggest smart things to you, but then one day, one agent says one thing… and it fully clicks.

I hope this bit from Good Prose will be just what the doctor ordered for someone somewhere today:

“It is a misleading truism that drama comes form conflict. Conflict in stories is generally understood as an external contest between good guys and bad guys. But to say that Hamlet depicts the conflict between a prince and usurper king is (obviously) to oversimplify that rich, mysterious drama, indeed to misunderstand it completely. The most important conflict often happens within a character, or within the narrator. The story begins with an inscrutable character and ends with a person the author and reader understand better than before, a series of events that yields, however quietly, a dramatic truth. One might call this kind of story a narrative of revelation.

… Revelation, someone’s learning something, is what transforms event into story. Without revelation, a story of high excitement leaves us asking, “Is that all?”

… For a story to have a chance to live, it is essential only that there be something important at stake, a problem that confronts the characters or confronts the reader in trying to understand them. The unfolding of the problem and its resolution are the real payoff. A car chase is not required.”

Here’s to everyone working on those car chase-less no-murdering stories this week. Here’s to you and yours learning something.

*And hell, here’s to anyone working on a story as character-rich as the most violent show I’ve ever been able to tolerate (see HSP, Item #6, scary/violent things).

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Goodness

Last spring, a married pair of ghostwriting clients flew me down to their place in Palm Springs. Can I tell you how much a Pacific Northwest dweller needs that blinding dry desert sunlight in April? This much:

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We’d completed the planning phase for each of their books, and decided to do the bulk of our interviews in person. At first, I hesitated: Staying with my clients, in their home? What if we discover over our first lunch that we’re light years apart politically? What if they catch sight of my ginormous tattoo and think tattooed people can’t write books about leadership? What if what if what if?

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Image source: lumituomi.tumblr.com

Mornings, this couple and I sat outside in the clean-smelling shade, recording our conversations and watching hummingbirds and geckos flit by. We jotted notes in notebooks and on one of those big Post-it® easel pads.

We did not look like this:

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Also, somebody please send me a year’s supply of these:

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Anyway, this couple and I recorded more wild and brilliant leadership ideas outside around the fire pit, evenings, after our post-dinner walk. We talked about Ireland, Canada, and their daughter at Oxford.

On our final lunch together, at some large restaurant in some pale Palm Springs strip mall, we all got so red-faced and giggly, people probably thought our hibiscus-flavored lemonade was spiked. It wasn’t. We were just rolling happy on the creative exchange, and probably, on the strange relieved realization that after three days together in the same house, we didn’t want to say goodbye.

Oh, that vintage clothing shop! Next time!

Next time hasn’t happened yet. The woman I collaborated with travels more for her work than almost anyone I know. She gives seminars, bringing people together and improving their work lives and non-work lives. Her book is about to launch, and I very much doubt the Palm Springs vintage clothing store extravaganza is going to happen in 2016. But that’s okay. I don’t need more clothes. I’ve done my years of dressing for work (Paris, corporate ESL, I rocked the Max Mara pantsuits). I work from home now, so yes, of course: lounge pants. And yes, if and when I find the occasion for a LBD, I’ve got the never-worn D&G. (Yes, for those who know me IRL, still.not.worn.you.know.the.one.imtalkinbout.)

Boil it down, my fashion glory days aside: I gained a mentor out in the desert.

My mentor shared with me her insights on leadership—on leading and living with integrity, grace, and soul. She did this for the chapters of her book, but you know—something odd happens when you listen carefully—ideas rub off on you. Good vibes do too! You grow. You both do.

As my mentor’s book launch approaches, I know how nervous she is, despite the fact she’s as successful as it gets. This too, is part of my job: “Okay, so, your book’s coming out. Eh, it’s just your soul on the line. No biggie. Kidding. You can do this. WOOT!”

Last year, she was supporting me through something totally non-project related (“With grace, Christine. You got this.”), and this summer, I’m ready to be her spazziest geekiest fangirl in lounge pants. I will cartwheel and shoop and chicken dance for her, but of course, since I ghosted this project, I will do it all behind closed doors, shouting “YAAAASSS” into my pillow.

And what then? What next? What’s up? Another gift comes that proves how working with one fab person can alter the course of your work life. Summer ’16 hasn’t even officially started, and this wonderful email from a brand new client just came in:

“I can’t believe I found someone so easy to work with. I looked at about a dozen bios of editors/ghost writers. You were the only one I had a good feeling about. So glad to encounter your enthusiasm.”

This is a woman with an amazing story, and she’s trusting me with it. She found me not through word-of-mouth, but right here, on my website. I’ve just started editing her existing content, and our plan is to map out what’s missing (so, we’re doing a developmental and line edit, and then… collaboratively writing this autumn).

I love the challenge of putting the pieces of story puzzles together like this. I love too, realizing that thanks in part to my mentor’s leadership and friendship, this year I have managed to bring nothing but amazing people to my door. Sure, a couple bad fits have found me, but the more I say, “No thank you,” the more “HELL YES” comes my way.

I’m not one to 110% believe in “Ask and ye shall receive,” and I don’t believe that asking alone or woo-woo wishing and positive affirmation always brings you the gold. You’ve got to Back Your ASK Up© (I just made that up and copyrighted it, pretty good, huh?) with integrity, know how, and talent. The full you better show.

Let goodness prevail.

 

 

Over the “too busy” excuse, but dang, I am real busy

I used to be such a dedicated blogger (years back, different site entirely). I was teaching at Portland State University and Mt. Hood Community College (adjunct life, woot!) and earning my MFA.

I wrote and wrote and wrote–my short stories, the start of my novel, student materials, and blog posts about books, writers, animals, living abroad, language, Noble Rot, crushes, beer, boots…

Now, I am writing and writing and writing and editing and editing and editing words for others. It’s my business. J’adore each and every one of my current clients.

But I am too busy to blog. So, yes, this IS today’s post. What can I tell you?

It’s June in the Pacific Northwest. I am wearing socks. Here is a photo of my Schnoodle, Melvin. I call it Purple Rain.

Goodbye.

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