True confessions. I haven’t read any of Jessica Barksdale Inclan’s romance novels although I’m sure they are wonderful.
Instead, I got to know Jessica first when we both attended a poetry workshop at Esalen Institute way back in 2001.
We reconnected several years later when I took her UCLA Writer’s Program workshop called “How to Write Your First Novel.” At the time, I was frustrated about not yet finding an agent or publisher for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, so I decided to concentrate on another writing project. I had an idea for a novel and I thought, why not start working on it? I found that workshop so inspiring, mainly because of Jessica’s knowledge of the craft and her friendly way of encouraging us while still providing relevant critiques of our work.
I produced a scene outline and beginning, middle, and end scenes that weekend, and I continued working on my novel for several months afterward, slowly filling in my scene content. Then, I indeed found my wonderful Lucky Press LLC publisher, and I had to put the novel aside to work on revising my memoir and getting it ready for publication.
Six months later with my revised manuscript off to my publisher, I took another course from Jessica – a UCLA online ten-week Level 3 novel course. She thought I would have no problem entering at this level since she already knew my work and me. And she was right. The writing assignments and class comments kept me happily writing more and more. And while I wasn’t as enamored with the online process, I still found Jessica encouraging and pointed in her critique comments. In fact I am still finding them useful.
Since the publication of my memoir last May, I went back to writing my novel in between all my memoir marketing activities, and right now I’m closing in on 70,000 words. And everyday that I work on it, I think of Jessica.
She is indeed my hero in encouraging me to continue on, and slowly but surely I do. A big plus is that she very much resonated with my story. What more encouragement did I need to keep me going?
Causes Madeline Sharples Supports
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, CA
Vistamar School, El Segundo, CA
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA (Endowment in...