For some time I had been wanting to have a coaching session with E J Runyon at Bridge to Story. One of my writing buddies had been coached by EJ while writing her debut novel, and told me how much the coaching had helped develop her work. I checked out the Bridge to Story website, and tried out a few of the writing exercises, which I found helpful.
Me being me, I kept dithering about it. I either didn’t have funds, or I’d get worried about having my work dissected and judged. Plus the added anxiety of having to Skype. I hate having my photo taken, or speaking on the phone. Having face to face video chat with another human being is a whole other level of awkward.
Then I was lucky enough to win a free coaching session. I took the opportunity to give it a go, hoping I would get a cure for my editing phobia, and improve my writing.
When it comes to writing, I love the adrenalin rush of the first draft. The process of extracting a story out of my brain and onto the page is exciting. The story seems to gain a life of it’s own, no matter how intricately I have planned and plotted. There’s always something new that comes out when I type or write the words onto the blank screen or page.
Where I falter is the editing process after. I reread my work and am overwhelmed by the huge task of extracting my story from the pile of cliché, rambling narrative passages, clunky dialogue and other myriad of bad writing.
I felt confident that I would get the best advice, having read my writing-buddy’s novel The Secret King: Lethao, DK Cassidy’s short story collection Spilt Milk edited by EJ, and EJ’s own novel A House of Light and Stone , all of which I loved. Spanning a broad range of genres from literary fiction, magical realism, to sci fi/ space opera.
With a pain not unlike extracting a rotten tooth. I pulled an old word.doc of a short story I’d written for an Open University Creative Writing course some eons ago, and a god-awful first draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 from my files. Feeling sorry to inflict the jumbled mess of words upon my poor coach for the hour.
I was relieved that Skype was just a voice call (saves on bandwidth), with text doc displayed in chat window, so I could see the editing work as we progressed.
EJ was so warm and approachable, putting me at ease immediately. It was lovely to finally put a voice to the person. Her passion for writing and helping others to create beautiful words shines through.
Discussing my first draft, and writing process with EJ, she immediately identified the main issues I was having. Working through a section of my work, she guided me through the edit step by step. I felt that I was given tools to hone my writing, and practical advice on how to approach editing tailored to my personal needs.
Bridge to Story has an art for extracting the essence of the work, to allow the author’s voice sing out from the page, rather than imposing her own style, or a prescriptive formula.
After studying creative writing in an academic environment, the Bridge to Story approach was refreshing. I now am feeling confident that I can chisel something worthwhile out of the detritus of my pile of first drafts, some of which I have been meaning to edit for near on a decade. I feel excited to start editing.