Face Down (or Kill Your Babies Part 2)

Yesterday was the day my manuscript got workshopped at the writers’ conference. The interesting thing that happened was that after a week of informative discussions about fiction, how to construct a novel, create a dramatic arc, build suspense, and draw in the reader – the comments at the table were more like icing rather than meat and potatoes.

Our workshop leader shared a new phrase with us – more frightening if possible – “I want you to go FACE DOWN.”

Now, she wasn’t invoking a 2LiveCrew song, she was suggesting that some of us needed to turn our manuscripts over and begin our stories again. (Turning it over, look at the back of all those printed pages, hence, face down).

Well, this of course is a frightening concept to many of us because there were a few people who had 300+ page manuscripts.

I resisted at the beginning of the week (mine being only a measly 100 odd pages in comparison) but by week’s end I was excited about the possibilities of telling this story again – sharper, more infused – this time much better.

Writers can not have egos or be closed to what others have to say about their work. It’s tough but you have to hold it loosely and be open to feedback and brainstorming. These are the two key things I’ll take away from this week. That you have to take your work out into the world and let it walk around and get knocked down.

After all – writers write. Whether it’s revising or doing something new – writers write.

Which is why I’m excited, not discouraged about going face down.


Heard of it? It’s the National Novel Writers Month. Yes, where people all over the world (even me in Qatar) commit to writing a novel (50,000 words) in one month, starting November 1 and finish November 31st. Why do people do it? Some for the sheer community building of it; there are forums and blogs and veterans of this crazy month. Some for the challenge (new year’s resolution like it looms over us) and then there are likely others like me, who love writing, but in the quest to get better at it, have let some of the fun drain out of it.

Why is writing not as fun as it used to be?

Because I’m trying to break into the magazine market? 
Because i’m trying to finish a dissertation?
Because I’m mid-stream one novel project after having written sixteen chapters of another?

For all these reasons, and perhaps the most important one to me, the loss of spontaneity, I’m taking on NaNoWriMo.

I’m going to sit down everyday and come out with 1,500 words. 

And I’m going to let it be about whatever it wants to me. 

The title? 
“What Surprises Me Most”

Stay tuned to see what that will be.

And it’s not too late to sign up (November 1st isn’t until tomorrow!):  www.nanowrimo.org