It’s hard to believe Writer’s Roadhouse has completed its first month. We’ve had several thousand hits, scores of subscriptions, and fine discussions on each post. The best part of Roadhouse, its heart and soul, are your thoughtful and finely crafted comments. Adrian Fogelin and Tgumster deserve special thanks for their effort, but I am thoroughly grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read and embrace this blog.
Last week I received the notes from my editor, and the rewrite will require my full attention for now. If I come up for air and write a post, you will receive notice if you have subscribed. And if any writer is struggling with a problem, please write it in the “Ask A Question” section. I will check those daily and make sure you get the help you need.
I will miss you for a bit, but look forward to your return.
Leigh Continue reading
I’m not a mystic, but what I am about to tell you is the true story of Jim Hathaway, a crotchety old editor who found a way to give me the exact writing advice I needed, at the critical moment — and even better — several years after he was dead and buried. Given Jim’s strength of will, I doubt even cremation would have stopped him.
Jim was a member of The Lafayette Park Writers, a critique group of retired editors, columnists, English professors, novelists, and one traveling actress. Each week they met in a city parks and rec building and enthusiastically welcomed each newbie who fell in off the street. Each of the core members was experienced and nurturing, and each in his own right could have lit up Sin City on the sheer strength of his personality and charm. But even in that group, Jim stood out.
Tall, svelte, and mostly bald, Jim wore double-knit pants and white shoes. He had a pugnacious delivery, a voice like a cheese grater, and in spite of his liver-spotted skin and huge ears, blue eyes as round and eager as any eight-year-old boy’s. I admired a lot about Jim, but the quality I most respected was his life-long elasticity, his willingness to reinvent his skills, his writing, and himself with each new physical challenge or technical advance placed before him. In writing and in life you could always spot Jim; he was the barefoot, shirtless boy skateboarding fearlessly down Breakneck Hill.
One by one we come to the door and step in. We’re a motley crew, writers of children’s books, thrillers, southern literary, historical romance. Most of us are southern to the bone, but one of us was born in New Jersey and a couple root for the Red Sox. We don’t agree on much, and that’s the point; one writer’s weakness is another one’s strength. We gather each Wednesday, sometimes as writer, sometimes as editor, and we cut and expand and sharpen and deepen until we’ve done all we need to carry on another week.
What we don’t do is gloss over our critiques. We are writers; we are committed; it is our business. But our conference room is also a kitchen table, so while it’s been the scene of sharp disagreements, it’s also seen its share of hands reached across the table and clasped tight. Writing is like that; you get to know each other quickly and deeply. As Adrian says, it is a naked business.