Working with Jane Gassner, I feel cared for by an expert. She is thorough, fair and encouraging even when what I give her is lacking in many things necessary for the work to be good. But Jane knows a writer’s mind, and she can get inside one that is not her own, and that’s what makes her unique and suited for the role of writing coach and editor. After a short while, she knows the goal, and she helps the writer achieve it. She has encouraged me to finish, pitch, and publish shorter pieces, and is currently cheering me on as I finish my first draft of my (first) novel. When that is finished I look forward to working with her on this much, much longer project.
After years of merely daydreaming about writing a novel, it was exhilarating to finally commit to it. I had a great idea, a detailed outline and high hopes, all of which powered me through the first four weeks. But as the initial fanfare began to wane, it began feeling more and more like I was trying to paint a masterpiece with a pack of crayons — and not even with the good crayons, but those cheap, waxy crayons they give away with kids menus. Thirty thousand words into it, I convinced myself that my novel would always be perfect so long as it remained in my head. I did what all great writers do when they feel stuck and binge-watched Netflix during my self-assigned writing time. Clearly it was time to consult the experts.
Over a ten-session period, Jane Gassner taught me how to get out of my own way. She showed me how recognize and disempower the voice of self-doubt, how to clear a path for true creativity, and how to embrace those pesky, unplanned storylines that pop-up out of nowhere and threaten the whole outline. After I got my groove back, she asked insightful questions about the story and its characters as it progressed, questions that made me think, gave me better ideas, and ultimately enhanced the story. She dislodged the “stuck” feeling and put me back at the easel with a proper set of paints. Today I’m nearly done with a solid first draft; a feeling that is absolutely worth the price of being behind on House Of Cards.
Jane is not the kind of writing coach who will give you writing exercises or hold you to weekly a word count; instead, she’ll hold you true to the story you’re telling. She meets you where you are on any given day, she figures out what you need to move your story forward, and provides it – along with a lot of laughs – along the way.
I have kidded Jane, calling her the “Writers’ Whisperer.” But in all sincerity, that’s what she has been for me. And here’s why I wholeheartedly recommend her to you:
I’m not a kid. I’ve been writing all my life, in one form or another. Any writer worth her salt knows that the difference between writing a good piece, and finishing an excellent piece, is in the editing. And as writers we all know that there is nothing harder than objectively editing your own work.
So for Part One of what makes Jane the Writers’ Whisperer is that she is a smart, honest and brilliant editor. If you’re reading this, I suspect you appreciate that an editor like that is worth her weight in gold. Talent is one thing. Sitting down and actually WRITING, no matter what, is the next HUGE thing. And if you have some talent and you are willing to do the work, then you are both wise and lucky to find Jane to coach you to the finish line.
Because Part Two of working with Jane is, after carefully crafting your piece, is learning how to pitch to editors and actually get published. Unfortunately, being a published (read PAID) writer bears no resemblance to the movie, “Field of Dreams.” Remember that? Kevin Costner playing baseball in a corn field, or something like that? All I remember for sure is that iconic line from the movie, “Build it and they will come.”
Um, not so much.
After you and your talent sat down, wrote the article, then worked with Jane to edit it down to the final shiny, polished draft, Jane takes you by the hand and teaches you about how to find someone to publish it. She knows the ropes. She’s been there, done that. And she’s willing to share that priceless knowledge with you. She won’t leave you sitting on a patch of ground in your Field of Dreams, manuscript in hand, hoping an editor somewhere will part the cornstalks, searching for your work.
What I love about Jane Gassner is that she’s so SMART and she has the proven track record to teach us what we need to know to have a chance at selling our work. You know you’re working with the real deal. She’s tough and she’s funny – and she’s right. Listen up. Do the work. Reap the benefits.
Thank you, Jane.