|Writer's Retreat Workshop
My Writing Journey
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How many times have you heard an unpublished, untrained writer say they're going to write a book, as if they could sit down,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
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 mentor me.
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 2016, Barbara Bentley. All rights reserved. No contents can be used without permission from the author.
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