By Meagan Spooner
IÕve wanted to be a writer since I was four years old. But it wasnÕt until I was 25 that I got up the courage to do something about it—and that something was Odyssey.
What I learned there changed my life. Literally. The experience was harrowing and thrilling all at once—the intensive workshop combined with mind-bending lectures on craft meant I fell asleep every night with my head spinning. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I wanted to go home. Sometimes I thought, This is the most fun IÕve ever had. Eventually, I came to realize that the only thing standing between me and my dreams was fear.
Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of ridicule. I was afraid that IÕd shatter my soap-bubble dream if I actually tried to reach for it. I was afraid that IÕd lose my love of writing if I tried to make it my job. Most of all, I was afraid of pouring my heart and soul into something that might not succeed.
But JeanneÕs compassion and wisdom as an instructor is incredible. Over the course of the six weeks I realized that itÕs not about success and failure but rather about lessons learned. I learned how to articulate and focus on elements and techniques IÕd only ever utilized through vague instinct. I learned when to trust my gut and when to get help from other writers. I learned how to read like a writer. I learned how to write for a reader. I learned to have confidence that my stories were worth telling, and that I was the only one who could tell them.
I learned more in six weeks than I think I wouldÕve learned in six years on my own.
In the year after I attended Odyssey, I wrote, revised, and queried my first complete novel. I signed with a literary agent. In the months following that I sold my first book as part of a three book deal. Six months later I sold three more books to a different publisher. By the time two short (but busy) years had elapsed since my time at Odyssey, I was a full-time writer contracted for six books over the next four years.
IÕm not saying that Odyssey will turn you into a professional writer. And IÕm certainly not saying youÕre guaranteed a writing career by attending. But Odyssey will give you the tools you need to do it, if you choose to use them. Writing is hard. Nothing replaces hard work, dedication, toughness of spirit. No one can make it easy, or guarantee you success.
But I will say this: Odyssey comes closer than anything else out there.
Meagan Spooner is a graduate of Odyssey 2009. Her first novel, Skylark, is forthcoming from Carolrhoda Lab in Fall 2012. Find out more about Meagan here: