Thursday, June 19, 2008

Teacher, Teacher

Where did you learn about writing? We all learned the basics from school, of course, but I bet most of us couldn’t diagram a sentence today if our lives depended on it. Schoolhouse Rock was great for learning about subjects and predicates and fueling the romantic heart at a young age. “Mr. Morton was lonely…Mr. Morton was…”

I think I learned the most from reading. How wordsmiths put thoughts together; when I understood it, when I felt it, and when I didn’t. I always wrote stories, even if I kept them in my head, but I started seriously putting them on paper because I wasn’t finding exactly the kind of story I wanted to read.

When I decided to write romance, I hung around the Harlequin site. E-Harl was doing a number of community boards, frequented by newbies, unpublished, published, you name it. The boards were very dedicated to helping writers learn the basics. Along with the lessons, there were contests and flash fiction exercises and round robins and stories. Lots and lots of stories, written by people who just loved to tell them, knowing that these were probably never going to be in any actual book. In fact, they are all the property of Harlequin. We knew it was highly unlikely that HQN editors would look at them and scream, “Eureka! We’ve found the next Nora Roberts!” But we learned. And kept writing. It was a wonderful, supportive environment; once you made the initial plunge it was not at all intimidating to post there. I kind of miss those days.

Today I am blessed to listen in as blog buddies like Bernita and December talk about the craft. Opinions about the ‘rules’ are as different and varied as snowflakes, but what binds us all together is the need to share a story, and share it well. I’ve been thinking about starting a romance board where friends can get together and talk about stuff; give lessons we’ve learned and post stories and ideas that we know won’t darken an agent’s desk but we still love; celebrate after the victories and console after the rejections; anyone can post and give honest feedback but you have to be constructive. Snarking would be fine, but crushing would be out of the question. How it would differ from the 1,245,987 other boards out there I haven’t figured out yet. I’ll have to think on it some more.


StarvingWriteNow said...

Hmm...sounds interesting! Let me know what you decide--you never know, I might be writing again by then.

Bernita said...

Let us know so we can all gallop over.

December/Stacia said...

I think a strictly-romance board where the members were serious and professional, without being saccharine and butt-kissy, would be a great place.

How would it differ? Force everyone to use a psuedonym, and don't allow agents or editors to join. Or have private boards where agents and editors cannot go.

Robyn said...

Thanks, everyone. Ideas are taking shape.

No editors or agents, hmm? In one way, I kind of like the psuedonym thing. It would have to be monitored carefully, though- in my experience anons get really nasty.

Kimber An said...

Oh, I loved Mr. Morton. I was always so happy for him, even though I knew he'd live happily ever after whenever I started watching that Schoolhouse Rock mini-cartoon.

Robyn said...

I know, he was so sweet, especially when he chickens out!