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Angela Goff

Writer. Teacher. Potter. VisDare Creator.

The Decision in Which I Pay $25 and Promise to Scare Myself

Today I did something that I’ve long considered doing, but haven’t been brave enough to do before.

It surprised me too, because this Scary Something was now in my budget, unlike most writing conferences, online classes, retreats, etc. My budget currently lives deep in Hand-to-Mouth-Feeding Territory, probably wearing old potato sacks and being held at gunpoint in an Old West ghost town somewhere.

But that super-tight budget has also been the convenient excuse to Not Do The Thing That Needs Doing – which, for me, is: Getting a better grip on how I approach my manuscript.

Because honestly? It’s time one of my Idea Babies learned to tie their own shoes and strut their stuff, dangit.

Result: Today, I signed up for an online class with The Manuscript Academy.

If you haven’t heard of it, The Manuscript Academy is a somewhat recent offshoot of the long-running Manuscript Wishlist hashtag (#MSWL) on Twitter. So much good has come out of agents sharing on #MSWL what they’ve been looking for in manuscripts – not to mention the invaluable advice from the #TenQueries threads – that several literary agents pooled their considerable expertise and made their collective wisdom available on a practical level to Ordinary Writers like you and me.

Next to the Writing Excuses podcast (season 11 and 12 alone are a master class, in and of itself), Manuscript Academy podcasts have become my new favorite thing for exploring the publishing industry, and how to make that knowledge work for me. The roster of literary agents who helm TMA, once I looked at it, is astonishing. How could I say no to such an opportunity?

Quite easily, I confess – because I’m a coward at heart. Risking critique at the hands of some of the industry’s best is intimidating, especially without having a query letter to hide behind, with the promise of a 10 page* minimum to expand my opening scene.

Which means, I’ve been hiding behind some clunky first pages for a good long while.

But I’ve read about all the blogs and followed all the hashtags that my weary soul can handle. It’s time to move out of theoretical mode and interact more with those who can help light the way.

When TMA posted that their Five Days to a Fab First Page class was priced at ONLY $25….even this strapped-for-cash self-employed whirling dervish couldn’t say no.

So I signed up.

The class doesn’t begin till May 15th. This gives me time to pull a manuscript out of mothballs, look over it, and dispense with the obligatory “Why did I think I can write?” pity party out of the way.

Then I’ll carve out some serious writing time from my schedule, because nothing’s going to unseat this, barring an emergency. (Please, Lord, no emergencies that week. Please.)

I don’t know just yet how much I can or can’t share about the class directly once I’m in it, but I’m inclined to do a daily blog update that week, if only to emote about how excited or intimidated I am by it. We’ll see what it looks like when I get there.

But in the meantime, I’m announcing my “scary decision” here for accountability purposes. I know I haven’t updated my blog in eons, and I intend to fix that as well — perhaps this leap of faith will help me with more than just the opening page to a languishing manuscript. Here’s hoping…

* Most query requirements specify the first 10 pages of the manuscript to be included in the body of the email. At least – that has been my experience thus far.

Bookstunami

My desk and bedside tables are overflowing with books purchased, loaned, or handed off to me with the words “YOU MUST READ THIS” and I’m…well…having a hard time getting to all of them.

I am a history and literature teacher, so that complicates things.

But these books…they’re all staring me in the face and I NEED the time to read them all. Or finish them, as I’ve started quite a few and just got interrupted.

Titles currently in the queue:

Tanglewreck – Winterson

American Gods – Gaiman

Enclave – Aguire

The Red Pyramid – Riordan

Runemarks – Harris

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm – Dartnell

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Metaxas

Origin – Khoury

Daughter of Sand and Stone – Hawker

I should probably add To Kill a Mockingbird to the lineup, as I am teaching it this month so I am on another reread….Tanglewreck and The Red Pyramid are at the insistence of the nephews (and who can resist such a recommendation?), but the others….where do I even begin? Recommendations? Anyone? Bueller?

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