Master Class

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Little Love Notes
Before I get into the post proper…Thank-you to dear Mad Max over at Book Angst 101 for quoting my little love note. I meant every word. And I think that The Blogging Blahs happen to all of us from time to time. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be much of anything to say. I say wait ’til the spirit moves you…it’s the only way to keep it honest and real. xoxox

Master Class
The fabulous and gifted soprano, Measha Brueggergosman was at Acadia University this past week. A stellar talent, she’s still a fun-loving daughter of the Maritimes (as well as a the tough, entertaining book-lover who served up Alice Munro’s The Love of a Good Woman for CBC’s 2004 Canada Reads competition). She graciously came to Wolfville, NS to give some of AU’s fresh-faced vocalists a master class.

In my BW life (before writing), I was a would-be soprano, wringing my hands in the long minutes before auditions, recitals, opera performances, and master classes. A master class always gave me jitters as well as enlightenment. Standing on the stage, listening for the accompanist to play me into singing, I thought of every teacher I’d ever had, every lesson my parents paid for, every bus ride to every competition…and then I’d think, don’t let them down. A master class is different than a weekly lesson or a cattle-call audition…suddenly somebody famous, someone who’s paid her dues is standing with you in the crook of the grand piano, noting the openness of your mouth, the centre of your pitch, the energy of your vibrato, watching you breathe.

All these memories have come to me again not only from Measha’s visit, but because I’ve been thinking about the guidance I’ve been given on my path to publication…the wonderful crew at WFNS, my amazing writing mentor, Richard Cumyn, and my never-settle-for-anything-short-of-spectacular agent, Helen Heller. Now it seems as if I’ve reached a new sort of master class in my life. This week I had my first speaker-phone meeting with two wonderful editors at Knopf Canada. Two people, who know the biz, have read my manuscript – they’ve gone over every detail, gotten intimate with my characters, noted the length of my sentences – they have watched me breathe.

Comments arrived in my email last night. The manuscript with notes arrives next week. It’s time to get to the heart of it…moving the voice into a bright, open space, allowing it to soar.

Sometimes I’ve worried that maybe all those music lessons were a waste. What good have they been? Sure, it’s nice to be able to land every note at the annual sing-along-Messiah, but is that all I’ve gained? Then I remember…

Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
A: Practice, practice, practice


and I realize that writing isn’t all that different from singing.

Blogging Writer of the Week
Last winter when I was in the middle of one of my many rewrites, I sent Marnie Woodrow an email to let her know that reading her blog had helped to see me through the slushy cold days of slogging away at the keyboard. She was kind enough to respond with this advice,

I wish you all good things with the creation of your first novel.
Revisions and your awareness of the need of them: always a GREAT sign.(I’ve always thought that the writer unwilling to endure the labour end of the title wasn’t really a writer, a view that may or may not be too harsh.)


Check out her blog, it will see you through ’til spring!
Marnie Woodrow

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