Introducing Second Story Writer’s Workshop

The first thing I did when I got to town, after hooking up the cable (it was 13 years ago) and locating the nearest Walmart, was find a group of Northwest Arkansas writers. For quite a while now I’ve been looking for a similar group writing experience. There are many wonderful options, like the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop, one of the largest and most active writing community in Northwest Arkansas with many accomplished writers, especially in the areas of western, romance, paranormal, and Ozark history. Several other groups are listed on Arkansas Writers. Write By Night is another good resource.

Despite all these wonderful area groups, I decided to start my own Northwest Arkansas writer’s workshop. Not the least of my reasons is that if I run the workshop I get to pick when, where, and how the workshop meets.

In addition to my personal scheduling concerns, I also believe that Northwest Arkansas writers are ready for something a little different. I believe we are ready for a smiley, sparkly, smirky group writing experience.

In Second Story Writer’s Workshop, no experience is required. This is not a workshop that caters to “published” writers or “serious” writers or “talented” writers. Although if you are any or all those things, we welcome you. Second Story Writer’s Workshop is for people who want to write. Period.

And because a writer is someone who writes, we’re going to get you writing. Right away.

I can absolutely promise you that writers — new, old, lapsed, and those currently only dreaming of writing — will leave workshop sessions with ideas and drafts that are seeds for stories, poems, essays, articles, or entire books. Writers will also leave with concrete skills and tools they can use over and over again to keep the words moving onto the page.

Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop

What is Second Story Writer’s Workshop?

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is a structured group writing experience for anyone who wants to write. All you need is a notebook and a pen. You can use a pencil, but it’ll smudge.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is a place to hear the truth about your words. And the truth is that everyone can tell beautiful and powerful stories. We help you find your truest, best voice and practice using it more often.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop builds your creative confidence, session by session. Because you’re not getting out the door without having scribbled some words onto the page. We will tie you to the chair if we have to. With nice ribbon.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop gives writers tools to cut through procrastination and overwhelm so that they spend less time thinking about writing and more time actually writing.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is not specifically focused on publishing, but who are we kidding? Every writer I know wants to be published like a dog wants a bone. We will help you get there and celebrate your success when you do.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is super supportive and ridiculous fun.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop helps writers of all experience and commitment levels make time and space to write, and to get feedback on their works in progress.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop ensures that those who want to write, write.

Second Story Writers Workshop is pure creative goodness, group support, and professional insights, wrapped in a bow and delivered with a smile, a sparkle, and a smirk.

How Does Second Story Writer’s Workshop Work?

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is modeled on the Amherst Method. We treat all writing as fiction, and the leader writes along and participates as a member of the workshop. The work we do is appropriate for total beginners to total pros, and everyone in between.

Every week we will spend brief periods actually writing to a prompt that is designed to teach a specific concept, or designed allow writers practice a particular technique. These writing exercises are structured, but allow for complete freedom for the writer to work in any genre, and to direct the writing in any way that works for them. Writers will have the opportunity, but never the obligation, to read fresh writing out loud to the group to get feedback on the parts that are especially strong.

Writers will also be able to submit manuscript pages to the group for responses, or they can choose to keep their writing private. Every writer will be supported and nudged into a deeper relationship with their writing, emerging as a more confident, more creative writer.

Update: The Winter 2016 session is full. To keep in touch about future sessions, please add your name to the dedicated list here: 




 

Coming Soon: Second Story Writer’s Workshop

For quite a while now I’ve been looking for a group writing experience that would fit into my schedule. I wanted something that provided structure, but also left a lot of room for play. I wanted to get a little feedback on my work, but not too much. I wanted to learn from other writers without getting buried in dozens of pages to respond to every week. I wanted to be challenged and coddled at the same time.

Basically, I wanted it all and I wanted it the way I wanted it.

I know a lot of other writers, used-to-be writers, and wannabe writers who want it that way, too.

I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I decided to build it.

Introducing Second Story Writer’s Workshop.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop is super supportive and ridiculous fun.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop helps writers of all experience and commitment levels make time and space to write, and to get feedback on their works in progress.

Second Story Writer’s Workshop ensures that those who want to write, write.

Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop

No experience is required. This is not a workshop that caters to “published” writers or “serious” writers or “talented” writers. Although if you are any or all those things, we welcome you. Second Story Writer’s Workshop is for people who want to be writers. Period.

A writer is someone who writes, and we’re going to get you writing.

I can absolutely promise you that writers — new, old, lapsed, and those currently only dreaming of writing — will leave workshop sessions with ideas and drafts that are seeds for stories, poems, essays, articles, or entire books. Writers will also leave with concrete skills and tools they can use over and over again to keep the words moving onto the page.

Second Story Writers Workshop is pure creative confidence, wrapped in a bow and delivered with a smile, a sparkle, and a smirk.

Our first session begins in January, and will be open to a very limited number of writers.

Details coming soon.

To be the first to learn how to participate in our very first session, please provide your email below. Even if you already receive my messages, I’d like your email again here to keep you informed about all things Second Story. If you’re not ready yet, but think you might be soon, please get on the list now. You never know when the time will be right to write!




Here’s to our big adventure!

I’ll be in touch soon.

Lela

Please note, this is a local Northwest Arkansas, in-person workshop. No online or remote option is available at this time. 

How Long Does It Take to Write a Book?

How Long to Write a Book?

Most people I meet are curious about how long it takes to write a book. I suspect writers ask because they are secretly comparing their process to mine, or they are calculating the free hours in their days, ever convinced that if they only had more time… Non-writers express disbelief that anyone has time to write a coherent thank-you note, let alone a whole book. As an author, when I see the final product, I’m still amazed that it all came out of me. All by myself (almost) I made each and every word fit together in a little puzzle of sense until it meant something to someone else. A book is a tiny miracle when you really stop to think about all the processes that had to combine in order for it to live.

From the initial idea, to the awful first drafts, to the editing, more editing, so much editing, and then all the logistics of getting the words into a format others can consume, and ideally, pay for. It’s all so much work.

For Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life, it all went down like this.

April 2013
Drafted the initial essays for the collection through a program of structured writing prompts offered by the writing coach I’ve been working with for years, Christina Katz. I had a vague idea that I wanted to write about the challenges women face on the work/home front. This was the 2nd or 3rd time I’d completed Christina’s 21 Moments program, and I had decided this time to focus on moments at work dating back to the decision to get pregnant while working as an accountant all those years ago. Christina doesn’t offer this program anymore, but at the time you could pay a nominal fee to receive daily examples of great writing as inspiration, as well as a reminder to sit and write one moment each day. By the end of three weeks I had 50 pages of raw material. It was mostly decent and definitely focused around my theme because I had selected the 21 moments I would flesh out ahead of time. I wasn’t sitting down each day to free write. I had a specific moment in mind each day. Time elapsed: 21 days.

May 2013 – July 2014:
Time to turn that raw material into actual essays. I had to fill in around whatever moment I had written, providing context and finding the relevant and compelling story for each. Then I had to fill in the blanks, find interesting moments in between the ones I had written, because unlike my two previous books, I wanted this collection to have a narrative arc, which is fancy writer talk for a beginning, middle, and end. Starting a new job in August of 2013 (the first time working in an office for more than 6 years) put a cramp in the writing schedule. My singular focus during that time was getting enough material to go into the editing phase. Time elapsed: 1 year 3 months.

July 2014 – January 2015:
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. Sculptors just have to carve away at their raw material. Writers first have to create the raw material, and only after they have done so do they get to shape it. Granted, there was a lot of editing while drafting, getting essays into a form that was truly worthy of showing another human. That process also informs the drafting of new work that supports the overall theme. For the editing in earnest, I worked with an amazing editor who helped ensure this book had a true through line, or narrative arc that I mentioned earlier. Time elapsed: 7 months.

February 2015 – September 2015:
Publishing. Distribution. Marketing. All of this takes much, much longer than you think it should. It’s just forever, and that’s working with an independent publisher. I have no idea how long these things take at a big New York house. I plan to find out someday. During this time I settled on a cover, saw the preliminary listing on Amazon come, and that beloved first print order came through. A retailer actually believing the book is salable is an important milestone. Time elapsed: 8 months.

Total time elapsed from first draft to publication: 2 years and 5 months. Which is actually extraordinarily fast for 100% new material. That is, dare I say, pretty good.

Beyond: Now I have another title, another product, to market forever. To reference and remember and celebrate and sometimes cringe when I will later undoubtedly see things I wish I would have done differently. After that, life goes on. Time elapsed: Unknown.

There it is, in case you wanted to know. Let me know your process in the comments, and please take a look at the finished product here and see if the book is one you can recommend to others. Thanks!


Books Make Great Gifts!

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.

 

Publishing a Book: 3 Very Different Experiences

Lela Davidson's books

This is the story of three very different books. The process of publishing a book can be thrilling, disheartening, empowering, and everything in between. My three books are very similar to the reader, but the difference in what Blacklisted from the PTA, Who Peed on My Yoga Mat? and Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life have meant to me is striking.

The first book is thrilling. It’s your baby, your supreme accomplishment, and your delusion. Despite all evidence to the contrary, and despite your absolute insistence that you have not fallen prey to literary fantasy, you believe that you will soon find yourself on the Today Show, laughing with Matt and Savannah about that especially endearing anecdote on page 42. You think the cash flow from book sales will soon cover not only the new housekeeper, but also the new house. Not right away, but you know, eventually.

Publishing your first book is the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to you. (Unless you are a mother and then you’re supposed to say it was giving birth. But let’s be honest, that’s just hard and you really don’t get any return on investment until your baby turns three or four, at the earliest.) So you spend an inordinate amount of time focused on the celebrity aspect of authoring, versus the authoring aspect of authoring. But the whole writing words is actually super important if you hope to ever produce the elusive second book.

Somehow you manage to pull yourself away from your intoxicating affair with your first book and get busy writing the second. You will undoubtedly believe the second book is better than the first, and it will be better because you have thousands more hours of writing experience than you did when you created your first book. So you hustle and get that second title out as quickly as possible because Amazon has algorithms and your tentative celebrity status has a shelf life. You launch the second book into the world expecting the same reception as the first. Nay, expecting an even more enthusiastic reception, because, see above– this book is better than the first. Except that all those friends and family who could hardly believe you actually published one book, have now become accustomed to your newfound lot in life: Author. Therefore, they no longer think it’s a very big deal that you have produced a second book. That is, after all, what authors do. In the span of 18 months your adoring public has gone from fawning over your incredible accomplishment to yawning over your excessive Facebook posts.

It’s not like your sophomore effort is a failure, it sells more in 6 months than the average book sells in its lifetime. Its LIFETIME. Number two continues to be a steady seller, inspiring smirks and smiles around the world. But relatively speaking, it’s really only about half as successful as your first book. Do you know who is incredibly unimpressed by half as successful? Agents. Talk show bookers. Publishers who drink their coffee in Manhattan. Those sorts of people.

Still, you cling to your ambitions. While working a full time job, you flesh out a project you’d been playing with. You write, edit, polish, and learn new skills to produce your… wait for it– BEST work yet.

This time, however, is different. This time you’re non-delusional. This time– it’s business.

Even though you don’t have nearly the time you’d like to promote the book and reach new readers, you make better choices about how to spend the time you do have. After all, this is your third time out. You didn’t get here without learning what is going to, as we say in the day job, “move the needle” and what’s going to be a wasted effort of your ever more precious time. You hustle and hope, and remember that you do not actually run the world.

And then the most delightful thing happens. Your third book has the most successful online launch in your long (4 year) history as an Author with a capital “A.” Just for a minute it’s not business anymore. This book has become the pure bliss of your first time around, without the silliness and misdirected fantasies of that giddy time. This time you know exactly where you’re going with all this. You’ve got strategy. You’ve got an end game. Once you figure that out, it’s all just play.

This art and commerce gig is tricky. Sometimes you’re focused on the art, other times the commerce. What I’ve learned from the third book is that focusing on the commerce forces you to refine the art, to make decisions about how you’re going to serve the audience, and more than anything else– to ask for what you want. No one’s going to give it to you. That’s business.


Books Make Great Gifts!

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.

 

Thanks for the Whore Barbie

Dear Mom,
Thank you for sending the Whore Barbie. It really is the perfect gift for an eight-year-old. How clever of you to find a loophole to my rule against Bratz dolls. Your granddaughter has been having a great time playing ‘Sure you’re not a cop?’ and ‘Run, there’s my pimp’.

Oh I know, Whore Barbie is a model. And I know models often walk around in black lace mini-skirts, fishnet hose, and high boots with their hips jutting out and their hands on their asses. But still. Let’s call a ho a ho. The platinum blonde hair makes her look a little like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Endearing as the movie was, the hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold plot is tough to explain to a third grader.

Maybe you didn’t notice the half-closed eyes, but you can’t ignore purple and gold eye shadow and frosty pink lipstick. The doll’s a walking blowjob. And you can’t tell me that leopard print purse isn’t holding the Blackberry she uses to process PayPal payments from the tech savvy, corporate johns.

It’s not just me. Whore Barbie’s not even allowed to play with her wholesomely anorexic counterparts. It states clearly on the back of the box:

Not for use with other Barbie dolls.

Anyway, thanks again. We’re off to play ‘Find my crack’.

A version of this essay appears in Lela Davidson’s best-selling book, Blacklisted from the PTA


Books Make Great Gifts!

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 9.09.26 PM

Lela Davidson’s award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon,
NookiTunes and other places books are sold.