I wanted to talk about Lazette Gifford, the owner of Forward Motion, the awesome community that I’ve been a member of for 4 years. She has been very active, even before she took over for Holly Lisle, and has always found the time to help members with things they needed, or to give advice.
I’ve always admired Zette — for both her talent and dedication to her writing. I am always in awe of her high wordcounts. She has taught me, time and time again, that you can make time for writing, if it’s important enough to you. I haven’t had a chance to read any of her fiction (except for the occasional snippet), and I want to change that.
I was a member of the first session of Zette’s Only A Novel (2YN) class. It was potentially the most challenging class I ever took on. But it was a good kind of challenge — the kind that helped me master my craft more, and storytelling, and everything that goes into a finished novel. It was in that class that my book Survivor was born — and while Survivor is still in progress, I always find myself looking back on the lessons and using the material.
My best memory of the class, and Zette was when I suffered panic attacks over plotting. I had plotted a few novels (while writing them) unsuccessfully and was a die-hard organic (note: was). I couldn’t conceive the notion of actually plotting — it threw me into severe anxiety. I’m not making this up — I really was freaked out about it. Part of the class was to plot — in whatever form we deemed best–our novels. I had to do it. So I posted a message to Zette mentioning my anxiety.
Zette, being the very bluntly honest person she is, gave it to me straight:
in order for me to succeed at writing professionally, I needed to be able to plot something. It is an essential skill to have. I needed to get over my fear and do it.
At first I was a bit taken aback — but then, as I thought more about it, I realized that she had a valid point. My goal is to write professionally, and if I couldn’t put a plot together, and be able to write a good synopsis, I wouldn’t get very far. And then I realied that plotting wasn’t the problem: it was me. My attitude.
So I thought about it some more, and decided to take a crack at it. I used the Snowflake Method, an awesome way to plot, and came up with a great plot for Survivor. To my utter disbelief, it flowed well. The book almost wrote itself, and I found myself going back to my initial plot and tweaking it, and letting it guide me. One year later, the book was 180k — the longest of any of my novels. So I was forced to conclude that plotting was actually a very good thing.
To this day I am a die-hard plotter. While I still feed the organic in me with slight detours, plotting is still the first thing on my list of things to do when I begin a new project. It has helped me time and time again to stay on track and not meander (not too much).
And I have Zette to thank — because had it not been for her advice, and tough love, I never would have made that critical discovery–and I wouldn’t be the writer I am today. Some people don’t like to hear the blunt truth — but I am not one of those. I’m here to learn, to improve, not to play at writing. I’m serious about it, and being serious means hearing things I might not want to hear. But it’s all for the greater good, for the writer I will someday be.
I hope someday to be able to do what Zette does — live my life with writing at the forefront. To be able to reach those high wordcounts, and write novel after novel, and be published, too. She’s a true inspiration to me as a writer, and I don’t think Survivor, which is one of my most cherished WIPs, would be the book it is today without Zette’s advice and her 2YN course. I’ve learned so much, and I know I have alot to go, but I know that it will all be worthwhile.
Zette has embraced the idea of paying forward, the vision of Forward Motion. She pays forward with her very presence on the boards. Thank you, Zette, for making a difference in my life. Know that I appreciate it more than I can ever express.
And by the way, Survivor now has a sequel. It’s all plotted and ready to go for when it’s time. 🙂