Helga’s Post #34 – The results are in. Three completed novels, two more well in progress. 1,500 pages to date since kick-off date September 5 last year.
The 5 new arrivals now await their ‘Judgment Day’ after their respective godmothers, and one godfather, dispense their wisdom. Starting June 15, the 5 writers will be ensconced for 5 days in the picturesque village of Whistler, to become judge and jury. To help the parents decide if any or all of the 5 new arrivals are ready to face the brave new world.
Like any new parent, we love our offspring unconditionally. We are convinced they are perfect and therefore we are willing to overlook their blemishes. We love them even if they have an ugly dark birthmark smack in the middle of their forehead.
Because of that unconditional love, that dark birthmark isn’t even visible. The ugly duckling isn’t ugly at all, even if everybody else thinks so.
What then will happen when the three fairy godmothers and handsome godfather do point out that ugly birthmark, or the fact that the offspring only has four fingers and three toes, and seems to be missing a voice? Or conversely, the offspring screams incessantly and never , ever shuts up. How will the parent react?
Let’s say one of the godparents thinks it’s a terminal case. ‘Kill off the ugly brat, it’s beyond hope. Give birth to another one.’
The parent will bristle. Probably go for the godmother/father’s throat.
What if they put it differently. Like ‘This baby has huge potential, but you know, it’s a finicky world out there. It needs some major surgery before you can release it. There are those great surgeons who can tell you how to fix all those shortcomings, but you have to be prepared to wield the scalpel. Not only wield, but cut. And cut deep. With everybody’s help you can even grow those missing fingers and toes. You have no idea what they are able to do nowadays with deformed offspring.’
Who are some of those surgeons, the parent may ask. Well, you know a lot of them already. You met them a the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. You’ve read their books. In case you forgot, look at their website. For this year’s conference, registration opens June 5.
Alternatively, the parent instinctively knows that the offspring has been naughty. Maybe too much drawing of blood and gore. Or the opposite: a docile offspring who constantly yawns and never gets out of its usual surroundings. Doesn’t want to get off its butt, only sits there like a bump on a log, thinking inside its head.
The smart parent knows this can only be cured by Baptism of Fire and is willing to ask the fairy godmothers/father for help. Not only ask, but is willing to really listen without being defensive and taking it personally.
Granted, dispensing feedback and advice requires diplomacy, tact and respect. Even fairy godmothers/godfather do have some earthly traits like an occasional dash of sarcasm. Sometimes they just can’t help themselves. But these 5 have formed a great working relationship where such things rarely happen, and if they do, they’re self-correcting. These 5 have a bond based on trust and a genuine desire to kick our respective offspring out the door in the direction of an agent or publisher willing to adopt it.
So for the next four weeks each of us will read four novels and prepare critiques for our retreat. Who knows, it might turn out to be a mini version of the Academy Awards sans the red carpet.
Or a Baptism by Fire. Maybe a bit of both. Regardless, it will also be a party. When all the work is done after each day, we will coddle the writer who was in the hot seat, and make sure we apply soothing balm, love and copious amounts of good wine.