It's leading someone to the water already inside of them.
Let us begin the journey.
I knew when I invited author Bren McClain to join us on The Mastermind Path to discuss her rewriting process that students were in for a treat. What I didn't know was how much I would be laughing during the discussion. It was with particular pleasure that I had the opportunity to visit with Ms. McClain because I KNEW the path she had walked to achieve publication of her first novel.
She tossed five years of work, kept one line and started over. Ok, that may be a deep simplification of the process and just as soon as I edit down our visit so that I can post it here I will. But that is the core point. To honor the story, to tell the story asking to be told she didn't give up on her character - or herself.
This woman happens to write in a chapel. One she built in a bit of walk/crawl space beneath her stairs. To enter as she puts it she has to bow a little and that puts her heart and mind in the right place. Bowing to the Divine muse and the power of story before she begins. With due reverence and respect for this thing we do.
On all that writing advice? This is when you simply hear me laughing and laughing as well as some of the evil laughs of the students. Bren shared when she first wrote her novel she kept showing it to people and taking whatever advice they gave her. Put more purple in the story? Sure. We need stripes. Okay. No, make that Polka dots! Got it! Until it went all the way around to - we need more purple in the story. The analogy is one of the funniest I've ever heard and of course hearing her tell it. Those in The Mastermind Path have already procured a loooong unedited and fun listening copy but I promise, sneak back here later and I'll try to pop up some audio outtakes.
We didn't stop at rewriting because Bren's story about her road to publishing is so inspiring in that it's no moonbeam fa-la-la publishing accident. It took years of working the ropes, honing her abilities, attending writing conferences, taking classes and working with writing critique groups. Which led eventually to being the last book that Pat Conroy published with his imprint (the imprint continues) prior to his passing away. A whirlwind and storybook finish to a long, arduous journey.
Ms. McClain deserves every ounce of success that finds its way to her, One Good Mama Bone, and her forthcoming novels. From one storyteller to another - my hats off to her.
You can find more about Mama Red, Bren McClain, her writing journey, awards, and advice - here.
Last weekwe were richly joined on The Mastermind Path: Following Your Muse and Finding Your Audience by author Joy Jordan-Lake. It was a great visit!
I loved most our discussion which really began with talking about capturing place, setting, and location of the story. All of this led to pondering the question - to research or to write? When is researching just a way to delay the process of actually writing the story? When can you simply add a small detail with a note (mentally or otherwise) that place-marks that spot and keeps you on the path of writing the story?
Writers have a lot of obstacles to overcome on a regular basis including demands or needs of family or other occupations but the greatest obstacles we have to work against are those that so easily lead us astray. What might those be?
The great commandment for writers might began -
Thou shalt not surf the internet while calling in research in the writing process.
I loved where the group went with this. Part confessional, part self-realization while laughing. Yes, that little spark of - I wonder what flowers might be blooming in the Spring of 1805 in Atlanta, Ga to the three hour rabbit trail you just took that ended with you ordering new knock-out roses for your garden. We resurrected the old-fashioned idea of going to a library or City Hall to the records department for research. Some feet on the floor and out the door research time that feels like honest to goodness research - not cheating on a test. Research can be all consuming and a wonderful thing. There are writers that thankfully spend years on research before writing their works but does your tiny little curiosity about that fashion women wore in 1938 really justified your four hour google search?
Writers possess a wonderful curiosity. It's one of the qualities that makes a great writer whether that's over ancient artifacts or the emotions of the human heart but that can also be like a sugared up kid in a candy store. Distracting and ultimately potentially destructive.
When it's time to actually dig into the story consider setting a timer, logging yourself off the internet, and enjoying the pure, pleasure of doing what you do best - creating the story. Yes, there are all kinds of apps you can buy now and programs you can launch that will kick you off for x matter of minutes but your own self-discipline following the love of your characters and creations might just be the higher path to follow and one that serves you better in the long run.
(Signed copies of award-winning author, Joy Jordan-Lake's most recent novel, A Tangled Mercy may be bought and ordered at Parnassus Books, the local Indie store in Nashville.)
You know those moments, days, events where you touch something and it exceeds your expectations? This series has been one of those things. Infused with a life of it's own and as inspirational to me as it is to the writers signed up for the series.
Two of the introductory class recordings can be found on this page. Other classes will not be posted but sent directly to enrolled students after the call for their notes.
This Tuesday 11/21 at 7am we officially begin the 7 week series. There are only 2 spots still available. If you or someone you know would benefit email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday we will begin walking The Landscape of Vulnerability.
Yes. I don't know of a greater word that describes the creative process. Who dares to put their art, painting, music, words out there to be loved - or criticized? The secret is in the discovery of who we are as artists and exploring the shape of our muse. Of being honest and taking our truth to the page. And in that - being fearless.
Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, novels or memoir, writing 'the truth' is about being honest and comfortable with who you are and giving yourself permission to tell the story that is wanting to be told. With power and presence.
This series is going to be an exciting, fun, glorious adventure. I do so hope you can join us.
A few people have asked - Conference Call? What is that? Something from the dark ages? I get that. In the age of instant facebook, video, youtube, instagram live, snapchat from the moon, jetson type calls with your Mom - it all seems so visual doesn't it. So - here you go. My 7 simple reasons why.
1. Reaching Readers who might be Writers in the Rough -
This recent comment in an email I received from a writer named 'Amy'. "
River Jordan! Whaaaaat?! I'm so excited to read about this opportunity to learn from a true master of storytelling. Thank you for offering this course across the miles to a somewhat frustrated author in Rowlett, TX."
I hear you, Amy. Sometimes I'm frustrated too. It's one of the reasons I teach. To keep myself focused on why I continue to tell stories.
2. The Vanity Project.
I don't want to concentrate on my hair or the shade of my nails or my lipstick. I want to concentrate on the message coming out of my mouth. Sure, I could not be the least bit vain and show up sans makeup with a ball-cap but let's get real. I ain't doing it. And, you don't want me to.
3. The Magic of Radio.
For ten years I hosted a radio program. I continue to produce radio both live and recorded. I believe in the power of it. Of the intimacy of voices in the dark. Of the delicate way that we can tell how someone feels by the sound of their voice, the tone of their words, the timbre of their truth.
4. The Story.
I have absolute confidence in my ability, gift, experience - call it whatever you will - to teach you via conference call and connect with you one-on-one via telephone. When I say absolute - I mean absolute.
Phone conferencing gives me the opportunity to instantly reach across the miles and connect with people across the globe. Some have phone access but no internet. The world wide web is a wonderful thing. When my sons were both deployed being able to video conference with them on rare occasion was amazing. Then sometimes the screen froze and they might have been talking but I couldn't hear them. Freeze. See. Freeze. It happens even when you aren't worlds away. Speed, uploads, downloads. Meanwhile - dial a number and bam - you're in. Calling from your great-grandmother's party line? We don't mind. It's just fine.
6. Dancing cheek to cheek. Face to Face.
I love to teach classes in person. I teach at conferences across the country and at workshops and events in Nashville every chance I get. But not everyone can get to Nashville. And I can't always hop a plane to Texas or Montana or Portland. And, did I mention that parking is not an issue? Ok, one more time. Parking. Not an issue.
The Mastermind Path: Following Your Muse & Finding Your Audience
A real life rubber meets the road blend of creative and artistic infusion combined with the practical side of the business of publishing such as finding an agent and/or a publisher and marketing your work.
This is the last week to tune in for free intro for this series 11/14/17 at 7 am central. One on One conferences have already begun with enrolled students.
For over 15 years I've been teaching writing at conferences across the country including the esteemed Festival of Faith and Writing. Teaching is the thing I did first when I arrived in Nashville - right after presenting my new novel at Southern Festival of the Book. I rolled up my sleeves and jumped right in to being at the heart of the city and it's writing community. In partnership with the Nashville Public Library I offered an all day creative writing event that makes me smile now as I write these words just thinking about it. The conference was at capacity and we had a lot of fun and laughs along the way.
I joined MTSU's Writer's Loft program founded by Roy Burkhead and served as a writing mentor for the program for two years. It's also where I made friends for life with other mentors like Terry Price (who is a great writing coach) and students. I went on to create and teach the workshop series In The Writer's Room - for two years at The Factory at Franklin.
On the side I began a little project known as Dutch Lunch for writers in all stages of publication and development and others in the Publishing industry to meet for lunch, make contacts and share their story. Every month a different network of people meeting until just about every writer knew someone in the city in this business of telling stories.
Recently, I've had the pleasure of teaching at The Porch Writer's Collective in Nashville and am presently enjoying the fun of teaching a younger group of students this semester for The Novel Idea's Pen & Paper club. In Upcoming news - I'm honored to be joining Brian McLaren as part of the faculty of presenters at the Writing for Your Life conference at Belmont University February 6-8, 2018.
All that to say -
I've been teaching for a long time through Universities, Conferences, Writing Programs and various series and workshops I've developed. It has been one of most pleasurable and significant parts of my life journey. The relationships I've developed with students over the years have been priceless and ongoing. Their individual wins in those classes, the memory of moments when a student found their 'true voice' still gives me chills. Because teaching isn't preaching. It's leading someone to the water already inside them.
Last week I made a precious phone call to a teacher that was instrumental in assisting me in finding my voice and becoming the writer I am today. We were both amazed at how many years have gone by because yes, it really does seem like yesterday when I wandered into her playwriting class not having a clue. That was a pivotal moment in my life. That one simple decision to say - Yes - that day to taking a writing class that before that moment had not been on my agenda.
In addition - unknown to almost everyone - I have been part of a Mastermind group for over two years now. Before anyone thinks it's some kind of mind-meld-Spock-voodoo or something let me explain.
A Mastermind group is a group of people who join together to achieve a related goal. Not collectivelybut individually. For two years our group has been five women who are focused on their professional development through goal setting, and learning about different areas of business from banking to marketing, self-discipline to creative influences. The results of these calls are astounding. Not a single person in the group is close to where they were two years ago. That sense of belonging or knowing that you may be having a rough week, dealing with many challenges but you are still striving to achieve your goal for the week. Still focused because you will be a part of the group call and report that progress. Some weeks are better than others but being a part of the mastermind group has been a quiet bedrock, provided a solid foundation through many changes. All of the people on the call are very different in background, personality, and career path it has been a particularly interesting to see how the one focused point of professional growth has unified and strengthened each of us individually.
All of these influences - my personal experience through years of teaching, thoughts of my teachers, and my experience being a part of a mastermind group have brought me to this point and are the reason I'm now offering the Mastermind Series. That and the fact that I believe in the art of writing. That storytelling makes a difference in this world. And that the ground between teacher and student, writer and reader, is holy. I embark on this journey of teaching the way I do everything else in my life - with prayer and reverence. With respect for the gift and the divine muse that lives in all of us.
The Mastermind Path: Following the Muse and Finding Your Audience could be the exact thing for you in this season. The seven week series will feature intimate conversations which encompass both the art of writing and the science of the practical aspects - respecting the rewrite, finding an agent, and promoting your published work.
Recently I told a good friend -
I've decided to throw away 100,000 words of my novel, take it down to the bare bones of character and place and begin again.
I could hear her quick intake of breath.
It's ok, I told her, I'm a professional. I know how to begin again with the power of certainty instead of clinging to what I've already written in fear of losing.
What ensued was an in-depth discussion about how strongly she felt I should be offering to develop and lead a mastermind group on writing. As I pulled those 100,000 words out, changed my title and hit save with a glint in my eye not from a tear but a vision of where my novel rewrite was headed - I agreed.
After many years of teaching writing at conferences across the nation including the highly respected Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College and receiving rave reviews from students and participants - I'm excited to incorporate this teaching experience and publishing knowledge with the special dynamics of the mastermind group success model.
What to Expect: Sage Advice. Weekly Classes. Writing Prompts. Personal attention. Discussions. Creative Input. Surprise Guest with years of experience as published authors discussing both the art and the business of writing.
The Introduction: Tuesday - 7AM Central Time
Please join in for a FREE introductory discussion with a surprise guest on what the upcoming mastermind sessions will incorporate.
Are you interested in writing your memoir? That long over-due novel? Or perhaps your a published author that would like to master some of the more practical points of the publishing market while navigating new technologies and trends.
For Conference Number and Access Code: Simply Email: email@example.com
The Cost: $249.00
The Mastermind Path: Following the Muse and Finding Your Audience. This includes a 45 minutes session one-on-one via phone conference that locates where your writing is at this point in your life and where you would like for it to proceed. We'll set some personal goals for your progress in the 7 week series. I'm certain this personal development opportunity will inspire your writing and rock your world. (Mastermind groups with this limited number of participants normally cost 300.00-1500.00 a month)
The Location: This part is easy. No navigating traffic jams or searching for limited parking spaces. No frozen screens on webcam's. You'll be provided with a conference call number and private code to instantly access the conversation. Having a bad hair day and still in your PJ's? Nor worries. Put the phone on speaker, grab a pen, your coffee and settle in. No distractions and primping for video. Just the richness of a mastermind group moving in all the right directions.
Take advantage of this unique opportunity to form an alliance with a professional author and a dynamic group of creatives. It's time to discover where your story will take you.
The Mastermind Path: Following Your Muse & Finding Your Audience
The Cost: 249.00