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Writers in the Pacific Northwest are lucky to live in a sort of literary  heaven–many, many, MANY best selling and otherwise renowned authors live and work in our midst. This region is rife with independent books stores, writing programs, conferences, and events that support the writing life. I feel blessed to be here.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be invited by a friend and colleague to attend an author event and writers workshop hosted by The University Bookstore, featuring esteemed author Jayne Anne Krentz (aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle). In the audience, as is often the case, were other well known authors, including Stella Cameron. Stella is a familiar face in local writing circles–she is an active supporter of writers programs.

Jayne gave a fabulous presentation that included some sage advice on getting published. She even provided a handout that gave a top 5 list of the tips for every serious writer, developed by Jayne and Stella. This sort of inside information and the opportunity to learn at the feet of those who have worked their way to success is in invaluable gift. It would be inappropriate to reprint it here, but I encourage every writer to take advantage of these kinds of events in your area. The educational value is immeasurable.

I have to tell you that even though I have been to lots of workshops and heard lots of authors speak on the craft, this was one of the best presentations I’ve ever heard. I walked away with a renewed perspective on my own writing, and even found the answer to a couple of story problems I’ve been wrestling with.  Particularly helpful to me were some comments Jayne made about heroic archetypes, and themes. She challenged us to ask ourselves what our personal themes were, pointing out that every writer she knew always came back to a few iconic heroic archetypes or central themes. I had a huge ‘aha!’ moment.

In the Q & A session, Jayne was asked about her writing process, which led to a question about inspiration. Where do you get your ideas, someone asked. I love it when this question is posed to authors–I find their answers to be so revealing, and often quite reassuring to me.

Jayne’s response was particularly profound–Real writers see a story in everything.  

Wow. Isn’t that so true? She went on to share some of her personal inspirations–story ideas that have been spawned by artifacts and antiquities, for example.

The next comment she made also stuck with me — she made the point that while a source of inspiration may be unique, there really are no new stories, only new points of view. Writers are compelled to tell the story in their own way, their own voice.

Now, I’ve heard this before and know it to be true. I’ve commented in other posts (see I Write Therefore I am ) about the innate compulsion I have to write. This seems to be the case with most writers I have met.

This comment spurred a later discussion on writers voice, which essentially speaks to an  individual’s unique point of view and style–the way in which they communicate their message. It took me years to discover my writer’s voice–it was always there, I just didn’t recognize it.

I will share with you that ‘find your voice’ was tip #1 on Jayne’s handout.  Do you know your writers voice?  I’d love to hear your comments and perspective on this.