Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The "Writing From the Heart" workshop at the Barn was FABULOUS!

   Sometimes when you really look forward to something for months, and it costs a lot of money, the reality doesn't measure up.  But the recent "Writing from the Heart" workshop I attended at the Highlights Barn exceeded all my expectations!
    I knew I would love seeing Joy Cowley again, my writing hero.  Whether it was chanting a Maori grace at dinner, telling hilarious stories in her New Zealand accent, or helping me with my manuscripts, she was wonderful.
    I had never met the other instructor, Suzanne Bloom.  We hit it off immediately!  I found going through my notes that I'd written, "I love Suzanne Bloom!"  She invited me to go into the Honesdale Salvation Army, and we had such a good time.  She's a great critiquer, too--I felt so confident in one of the stories she helped me revise that I sent it off today.
    AND--I got to see my dear friend Kathy Doherty again!  We met at the last Chautauqua and have been buddies ever since.  Here's a picture of Kathy and me:
Marileta Robinson, the former editor of Highlights, came to visit.  She rejected everything I ever sent her, but she always sent an encouraging note.  That was so much fun--we kept having guests!  Editors, art directors, authors, illustrators, the Honesdale children's librarian, a singer/songwriter, and each one added so much to our experience.  Here are several students with Marileta (seated in the middle) and that's Joy on the end:

 We went into the Highlights offices in Honesdale, and editor Joelle Dujardin showed my rebus in the current (June 2014) issue of Highlights.

  Suzanne Bloom dressed to match her illustrations!  It was fun to see the original pastels.  Her art director came, too, and told what he did after he got her artwork.
 The meals were amazing, I loved my cozy little cabin, and the grounds were beautiful, with lilacs in full bloom.  We took walks past nearby farms where we were greeted by Max the dog, chickens and friendly pigs.
    I had a manuscript that had come very close to being published but was turned down by acquisitions, and I hadn't been able to look at it--too painful!  But Joy helped me revise it, and I fell ready to submit it elsewhere.  Joy is one of my favorite people on the planet.

    There were only 7 of us attending the workshop, and we formed a tight group.  The instructors gave us an extra half-day of their time on Saturday afternoon!  Another surprise!  I'd recommend a Highlights workshop to anyone.  I came away with five manuscripts I feel ready to submit, but more importantly I was nourished, body and soul, which was just what I needed.