Two classes

Although I spend a lot of time writing, reading manuscripts, walking dogs and watching Dancing with the Stars, every Wednesday I emerge from my lair and teach two novel-writing writing classes in NYC. I teach one from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then the next from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. In between I hang out at the Gotham Writers offices, which is a fun place to be, and I usually spend the time working on a chapter of something. What that means is that every Wednesday I get to hang out with 28 or so novelists. That also means I’m reading 28 novels in progress. And it’s taught me many things. 1. Writing a novel is an exercise in patience. Some of the people in my class having been working on their novels for 4 years, and they’re not done. They’re serious writers and they’ve taken on ambitious topics and it just takes a long time.  2. Revision really works. There is a huge difference between the first draft of a novel and the fifth, and yes. Sometimes it takes five drafts. Sometimes more! 3. No one really knows what they’re doing (the teacher included). Everyone writes a novel in their own way, but my job is to help my students figure out what is the best way for them. 4. Writing can be a lonely job, and it helps to have a supportive bunch of people around. 5. People in a workshop can see things in your work that you just cannot see for yourself. It does help to have readers who can tell you what they don’t understand, and where your work seems slow, and what you’ve done that’s wonderful.  6. Everyone has a strength. Sometimes it’s plotting, sometimes it’s dialogue, sometimes it’s voice. Once you know your strength, then you can jump into the fray. 7. Writing is exciting and satisfying and exhausting and worthwhile. So is teaching.

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