The past few weeks have been filled with lots of travel and thus lots of time reading on planes. I spent a week in San Diego, which was 90 percent work and 10 percent play (I finished "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. OMG. Run, run, run to read this book. Outstanding); five days in Boston, which was 99 percent play (I actually decided to include a bit of the city in a new manuscript I just started working on, so a little bit of work. I also started "The Talented Mr. Ripley," my first Patricia Highsmith. Astounding so far. I didn't realize she also wrote "Strangers on a Train.") And later this week, I'm headed to Toronto for what I believe will be the trip of a lifetime.
I've blogged previously that I'm a huge fan of Joy Fielding, a New York Times-bestselling author of some pretty terrific suspense novels. My introduction to Joy was the fabulous "See Jane Run," and my love affair continued through "Don't Cry Now," "Puppet" and "Mad River Road." My all-time favorite Fielding-penned books are the aforementioned "See Jane Run," "Whispers and Lies" and "Grand Avenue." There's a reason so many of her books are bestsellers; the woman knows how to write a page-turner.
I keep tabs on Joy's web site, where she writes a regular letter to fans, keeping them updated on her life and most importantly about new releases, book tours and other projects she's working on. A few years back, she mentioned she'd be teaching a writing class at the University of Toronto. I about wet my pants -- the chance to learn more about the craft one-on-one from one of my favorite writers? Shut the front door!
Alas, like most things in life, we can always think of a reason not to do something and my excuses were abundant (not the least of which was I didn't even have a passport); it would be too much money, where would I stay, I couldn't take a week out from work (when you work for yourself, you don't work, you don't get paid). On and on and on and on.
At the time, I mentioned to my step-mother how much I wanted to be able to travel to Toronto to take this class, but just didn't see how I could make it work.
"Listen," she said. "If you want to do it, just do it."
Instead of taking her advice, I listened to the nasty little naysayer in my head and let the opportunity slip through my fingers.
Last year my step-mother died at the incredibly young age of 56 and of course, something like that really puts your own life into perspective. I thought about this when a few months ago, I saw that Joy had decided once again to teach the course. My step-mother's words echoed in my head and I knew it was no accident this opportunity had reared its head yet again.
So, I registered for the class.
While I am a firm believer there's such a thing as hiding behind endless writing classes and groups as opposed to actually writing (and I do write -- every single day), this was too good an opportunity to pass up. If Aaron Sorkin was giving a Master Class on scriptwriting, or Oprah Winfrey wanted to give a seminar on how to build an empire, wouldn't you go?
I leave for Toronto later this week and I can't even begin to describe how excited I am about getting the chance to learn more about the craft from Joy (as Wendy Williams would say, I've already decided she is a friend in my head and therefore, we are on a first name basis). I have also vowed to leave my fragile, creative ego at home and go in with an open mind and a willingness to receive the information and most importantly the feedback, because it can only make me better.
I'm going to attempt to blog each day about the experience, as I know it will be an incredible one. Even if I don't get a blog up everyday, there will be a blog of some sort, because this will be too cool for me not to document.
O Canada, here I come!