|Writer's Retreat Workshop
My Writing Journey
HOW DID MY WRITING JOURNEY BEGIN?
I remember the exact day I decided to become a writer. It was in 1991. I sat in a hotel room in Indianapolis on a rainy summer Sunday afternoon and tried to make
sense out of what had happened to me, and how my life had spiraled so far out of control that my husband of nine years sat in prison, convicted of trying to murder
me. Then it came to me. I needed to share my experience to help others. I needed to write a book. Little did I realize that my story was far from over. But I had
taken the first step - I had found my passion.
HOW DID I LEARN TO WRITE?
How many times have you heard an unpublished, untrained writer say they're going to write a book, as if they could sit down, without any training, and put the
correct words on paper or computer screen. Oh, there might be the occasional natural talent that could, but most aspiring authors trudge along the path to becoming
published, and one of the first stops is to learn the craft of writing.
After I had found my passion, I used patience and persistence to reach my publication goal. I went to the library (the writer's friend) and found a newly published
book "How to Write and Sell True Crime" by Gary Provost. I checked it out and devoured it. In a brave move, I wrote a proposal letter to the author, illustrating
each point in his book with events from my story. I said that I worked full time and asked if he would be interested in co-authoring my book. Then I waited.
Within a month Gary wrote back, saying his project list had him extended for the next couple of years and that he couldn't help me. He added the caveat that, based
on my proposal, he felt I could write the book myself. Wow! Little did I know that two years later Gary and his wife Gail would come back into my life.
Life got in the way for the next two years, but when I was finally able to go beyond myself I found the International Women's Writing Guild on a Timepeace
calendar. I attended their Summer Conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1993. What a fabulous experience to spend 10 days with 400
women interested in writing. I discovered my fairy tales and dabbled some on my story, but I did little beyond the conference.
The next year I went back to the summer conference and in a miraculous sequence of events, was put back in touch with Gary and Gail Provost who just happened
to have a last minute cancellation for their Writer's Retreat Workshop, held at that time in Bristol, Connecticut. In October 1994 I rolled up my sleeves and delved
into the intense schedule and worked on the first scene for my book in the chapter where I meet Homicide Detective Greg Smith. At the end of the conference Gary
said he had never seen anyone's writing improve as rapidly as mine during the ten days. Gail gave me a sparkling fairy wand at graduation and Gary agreed to
I attracted my first literary agent at the Writer's Retreat Workshop in 1994, but his interest fizzled before I had seriously started writing. Looking back, I can see
that I wasn't ready and he had rightfully passed. Around this time I also queried for my fairy tales, but did not pick up any bites. In fact, one agency returned my
manuscript minus the cover illustration. I was disillusioned, and mad. But I didn't have that much time to commit to my writing. I was immersed in dealing with
the psychopath and changing the divorce law of California.
When Gary suddenly passed away in May 1995 at the young age of 50, Gail jumped in and became my mentor, leading me through the process of outlining. I
scoured all my materials like calendars, organizers and family photographs to piece together my story and recorded events on note cards, which I then used to write
scene cards (actually I used a table that I created in Microsoft Word and most scenes filled at least one page of paper).
Copyright 2013, Barbara Bentley. All rights reserved. No contents can be used without permission from the author.