Iowa, I’ve Missed You

Iowa, I’ve Missed You

Discovering the classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival changed my life. I had been working on ROTSM for at least two years, and felt better about my writing than I should have. That’s hindsight, of course. I’ll skip the first part of a long story, and just say that I experienced an unexpected rejected from a literary agent, and when I finished licking my wounds, I remembered having been given a catalog for that years’ Iowa classes.  Reading through that catalog was humbling, as I barely understood the titles of the classes, much less the descriptions. Story arc? Close 3rd vs omniscient narrative?

I picked a class that sounded interesting, and seemed relevant to my novel-in-progress, called Let Your Characters Sin, taught by Eric Goodman.  It was an excellent experience, fun because we work-shopped our first 30 pages and my classmates seemed to like what I’d written. I plucked up my courage and read a 3-minute segment at Open Mike Night, and people actually laughed at the funny bits. That was exhilarating. I eventually realized that writers who consider themselves students, no matter their age, are wonderfully generous to the fellows, but still, it was a triple shot of espresso. From that year on, I returned to Iowa every summer for at least a week-long class, and came home every year resigned to having to rewrite my novel to encompass the new things I’d learned.

Nine years later, I had to admit it was time to take a break from taking a break, and finish the damn book. So I did, and it’s published, and you’re reading its blog right now.

But I’m going back to Iowa shortly. Partly, because my wonderful old friend Julia is coming back, and I want to see her. Partly, because my new friend, Laura, just 18, is going to Iowa for the first time, and I’m easing her way. She doesn’t really need me, but it’s an excellent excuse, right?

If you’re a writer of fact, fiction, poetry, kid lit, memoir, screenplays, stage plays, or anything tougher than shopping lists, come to Iowa at least once. I bet you’ll be hooked for life.

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