Thursday, June 15, 2006

You Can Take it With You

By Nichole Giles

This week I am attending a Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop at BYU. Though it was costly, I know this workshop will be well worth my money.

In order to attend, I had to submit the first twenty pages of my novel. That was scary to me, as when I registered, I had barely outlined the story I was going to write. Luckily, about the same time I registered for this class I attended a conference with the LDStorymakers, where I received a great deal of helpful information as well as a large dose of inspiration. After that conference, I had my rough draft finished within less than two months.

After I sent my pages to the instructor, she sent me a copy of everyone else’s pages, and instructed me to read and comment on them in preparation for our class. In case you are wondering, that is fifteen manuscripts at approximately twenty pages each.

On top of that, I have devoted at least nine hours a day for five days to attending this workshop. (I’ll mention now that these days happen to fall smack in the middle of my kids’ summer vacation.)

I’ve never attended this workshop before, nor do I really know anyone who has, so how do I know if it will be worth the time, effort and money? Even as I know that going to this conference will not guarantee I will sell my manuscript, I am guaranteed to gain something.


I can’t think of a better reason to go. Yes, I admit I would like to impress an agent or a publisher who is in attendance, and woo them into handing me a contract on the spot, but I know that’s not realistic. The truth is, I believe there will always be something more to learn. If I keep an open mind—and thick skin—I can learn from the instructors, as well as the other students in attendance. How else are my writing abilities going to expand? I can read and write on my own for hours every day, but without the input of other writers, editors, and publishers, I won’t learn anything. Without that extra knowledge, I will probably never get published.

So first thing Monday morning, I’m going to put on my bravest smile, and my best looking casual ensemble (whatever I decide that is) and show up on campus for my first official college class at BYU. There are so many material things you can’t take with you into the next life. I’m going to this workshop in pursuit of something that I can.

Knowledge, you can take it with you. Pass it on…

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