I made it! From uncertain, to wait listed, to joining the class last minute, I am here! BONI VA 2013
A year ago, I had never heard of Donald Maass. :insert gasp if necessary: But then, at the same time, my local RWA chapter as well as Savvy Authors colluded to bring him into my world. Savvy was doing a year long course on the Breakout Novel. My local chapter was hosting a one-day workshop with him on the Fire in Fiction. It was destiny. Well, for me, maybe not Donald.
The Fire in Fiction workshop was the most amazing experience I’ve had in a workshop to date. It’s not that I feel I’ve sat through any *bad* workshops, but I still remember, nine months later, saying at the end of the day how I wished everyday I wrote could feel like that workshop with Don. He was so well-spoken, it was balanced perfectly between talking and actually doing what he was talking about. It made me want to be here, where I am right now.
Which is BONI (pronounced like bonny): Writing the Breakout Novel Weeklong Intensive 2.0. We’re the 20th class for this series, and Don has been working with Lorin, the organizer, for 13 years, on presenting the various topics he’s taught through Lorin’s company, Free Expressions Literary. The 2.0 has to do with the fact that since publishing Writing the Breakout Novel, Don has steadily folded in elements from his other books into this workshop, which does center on the material in the former book.
I arrived mid-afternoon, after surviving my flight from Reagan National. Weather had not seemed so bad, gloomy, but no real storms. I’m not even afraid of flying so much, but I must admit that terrified part of my brain, that we all have, had its moment of screaming, “Oh my God, what was that‽ We’re going to die!!!!!” through an intense session of turbulence. Luckily another faction of my brain turned on some soothing music to quite the hysterical faction and we continued our trajectory through the sky.
Virginia Beach is humid. Our hotel is lovely. After so many workshops and conferences and seminars, you get used to Holiday Inn’s and Marriott’s, but Lorin has us set up in The Founders Inn, which is more of a classy campus than anything like an ‘inn’. Our class appears to be occupying its own building of rooms and we walk to the main building for our classes and meetings. It’s what I imagine going to William and Mary would have been like. Apparently there is even an English-style Garden out back and the fitness center isn’t a room, it’s a whole building.
Tonight was relaxing. We all met to mingle before dinner, had dinner together, and then spent a bit of time in our classroom where Lorin did an introduction and Don reminded me of why I shouldn’t have been nervous the past few weeks. He’s The Writer Whisperer. While I have no doubts as to the amount of work and learning that will begin tomorrow, Don has an uncanny ability to pull you in, off the edge of your own intensity, be it nerves, or self-doubt, or well, insert your own adjective here. He asked for questions after his great talk on what this week was going to be like and how we should approach it. I asked him about what my friend Lynn Rae dubbed my “performance anxiety”. I was scared I was going to sound stupid or inexperienced because who on earth get anxious about writing after they win a contest? But not only did Don put it in context and explain everyone gets that feeling at some point, and there are ways to work through it, I found a friend in the room who was suffering from the same thoughts and feelings.
The days are long. I think everyone’s eyes bugged out a little when we saw the hours we were going to be keeping. The basic structure is breakfast then class all morning, then lunch followed by writing time (this is when appointments take place as well- a one-on-one with Lorin and one with Don, and options to sign up with two other staff members as well, Brenda and Jason. I have one each day, Brenda, Jason, Lorin, and Don). The evenings vary. Two nights have critique groups after dinner, another is a special craft lecture, another on micro tension, and then our last night is a night on the town together (which at this point is to-be-determined, lol). The day starts at 7:30 and basically goes until 9 or 10pm- or even later, really. Which is the perfect place to end this first blog, as am clearly going to need my beauty sleep!