As noted by my friend and critic Melanie, the Southern California Writer's Conference was in town this past weekend. I spent an entire weekend having my plot examined, evaluated, and ultimately eviscerated.
And I loved every minute of it.
Well, OK, to be honest, I loved every minute that was about me. My interest flagged slightly when we were talking about somebody else's plot. Hey, I'm only human.
Plot is my nemesis, my white whale. I imagined that novel writing works sort of like short story writing: you think of a story. It has a beginning, middle, and tragic, triumphant, or hilarious ending. Then you write it down. I've written many a short piece in more or less this way, and no doubt there are those who produce novels in just such a manner.
But no, not me. I know the theme of my novel, the major symbols, the motivations and feelings of the main characters, and what happens when the shit hits the fan. I know the voice, the tense, the point of view. I know where to use humor and where to lay on the pathos. What I don't know is how it ends.
So I went to the conference, having signed up for the unattractively entitled NovelCram. NovelCram was led by author Drusilla Campbell, a petite woman with a brilliant smile and the unrelenting energy of a plutonium reactor. Dru led the class from one end of the weekend to the other, barely taking a breath, much less a break, outlasting even her much younger students who crept out seriatim for a coffee or a pee before returning a few minutes later to be swept up again into the Drunado.
I, too, was sucked into the vortex, eventually finding myself deposited at the end of a winding path of saffron-colored brick. Squinting, I could make out a curve here, a sharp turn there; a surprise around one corner, a complication around the next. And, in the distance, the vaguest outline of an emerald city. I can't quite see beyond the walls of the city, but I'm pretty sure that if I can just get a little closer, I may discover...