My dad used to always say, "home again, home again, jiggity jigg," in a very solemn voice but with a smile on his face, as soon as he pulled the car into the garage. And so I say it now that I'm home from the most incredible experience of my life.
If any of you out there want to become a published author, I can't imagine anything better for you to do than to take your first novel to Brigham Young University's Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop! This is because on the first day in the first five minutes, my teacher told me to put that old novel in a drawer someplace and not look at it for at least six months. As the week went on I realized that this was VERY GOOD ADVICE. In five intense days I workshopped twenty-eight first or second chapters of other writers' work, some of which I would not have been surprised to find printed in published volumes at the book shop. It opened my eyes to the possibilities. Our teacher explained how to build a fantasy world, develop plot and characters, find the natural conflicts, and then interweave it all to create a great story. AND he convinced me I could do it all in a fraction of the time I had thought it would take.
And as for that first chapter of a whole new book that I wrote on Tuesday night, everyone liked it. Even better, the book that will grow from that first chapter has a "get out of slush-pile free" card. It doesn't get better than that.