Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to attend a workshop conducted by one of my favorite authors, Robert Dugoni. It was through Willamette Writers, of which I am a member. A few years ago, I attended a writing conference and heard Mr. Dugoni speak for the first time. It was riveting. Not only was he a dynamic speaker who presented clear, concise information, but he was NICE. A regular person, not at all like the mythical creatures called Famous Published Authors that I lump in there with unicorns and leprechauns. Okay, I kind of believe in leprechauns. But I digress…
That weekend long conference was so overloaded with information that when I got home and had a question about my notes, I thought I’d take a chance to see if Dugoni would help me figure out if what I wrote was anywhere close to what he’d intended or said. To my surprise, he wrote me back and still was extremely nice.
So when I heard about a half-day workshop with him, I knew I had to attend. Now, I’ve been to workshops, conferences and comedy shows where I’ve seen the same speaker years apart and they’ve tweaked the title of the program a bit but it’s the same. damn. thing. I have to admit, I was a little curious if it would be the same with Mr. Dugoni.
It wasn’t. Not only was I pleasantly surprised that as the guest speaker for the regular meeting that he talked about his love of writing and his journey of how he got to where he is, today. He talked about heartache and those dreaded rejection letters. He talked about the voices in a writer’s head and how it’s not all that crazy to talk to oneself in the car. I didn’t admit to trying out the voices of my characters in my head, but I’m confident that had I said something, at least someone else in the room would have nodded along.
One thing about his life story really shook me to the core, though. He talked about the times in his life when he’s not writing and how something feels askew. It brought tears to my eyes, because I fully understand. I get the burning need to write and how it’s easy to push it aside because I’m too tired after work (or before), because there’s dinner to be made and laundry to clean and my dog needs a walk…
It’s hard to make time to write sometimes. It’s easier to just read a book or run errands on my lunch break at work. It’s also nice to get in a good chunk of writing time then. I love listening to music while I take my dog for a walk, but I can also do some great brainstorming then. I find time to exercise because it makes me feel happier and to meet friends for happy hour because that feeds my soul, too. Why not think of writing as something necessary to my overall well-being?
Starting today, that’s my goal. To really make writing a priority. It’s not always the fun things, either. Well-written prose is the goal. However, outlines and editing and critiquing a writing buddy’s work also contribute to my craft.
So, a thank you to Mr. Dugoni for putting into words something I didn’t even realize I needed to know and to point out something I had no idea I was missing.