Okay, so it wasn't really a weekend, it was only a day. And there were 150 other people in the room too, so I guess I wasn't strictly spending time with Bob. But writing is about the hook (and, frankly, about lying), so there it is.

L to R is me, Misty Wright, Danniele Worsham, Bob, and Kim Kerr. We're the Heart of Dixie members who drove to Atlanta for the workshop.

Bob had lots to say about writing. Some of it I won't do (outlining). Some of it I will (lots, actually). If you can't go to a Bob Mayer workshop, pick up a copy of The Novel Writer's Toolkit, which the workshop comes from. The book is pretty good, though Bob's in-person delivery is better.

I also got to meet the fabulous and hilarious Jennifer LaBrecque. Here we are again, sans Misty, with Jen. I sat next to Jen throughout the day (8:30 to 4:00) and she kept me laughing for much of it. 🙂 You can find Jen blogging over at The Soapbox Queens.

I also got to see my buddy Carol Burnside! No pics of Carol, but that's because I was dumb and didn't take my own camera. I “stole” these pics from Danniele, who is smart enough to have her camera everywhere she goes. I must remember to take the camera!

I returned from Atlanta feeling energized and ready to work. Good speakers do that for you. Bob doesn't paint rosy pictures of writing, but he doesn't tell you you'll never succeed at it either. I've met those types, the ones who say don't give up your day job and you'll never make enough money to support yourself. Yeah, I know the odds are long, but the reality is that some people do make a living at writing. Not everyone is a J.K. Rowling (most aren't, in fact), but it's damn possible to support yourself if you work hard.

One of the most interesting things Bob said (I thought) was that we're in the entertainment business and we have to remember that our books are products. You are producing a product, not a baby — even though you've put your heart and soul into the work. You have to be able to see your book like a reader sees it. Because that's how an industry professional is going to evaluate your work. They want to sell it, not wallow in the lovely and amazing words you slaved over. Painting a pretty picture, getting lost in linguistic gymnastics simply because you want to do it, isn't the goal. Creating a compelling story is. Make the reader care about your characters, not your pretty sunset.

And now, to take the hardest part of the advice Bob gave, I'm off to use my computer for writing, not surfing.

Have you attended a workshop or class that inspired you? Changed any part of your process because of it? Did it work for you or did you go back to the old way of doing things?