Posted by: Katie B | March 20, 2012

The Incredibly Generous Holly Black

I’m a big fan of Holly Black’s writing, but now I’m an even bigger fan of her:  Holly Black, the person.  She attended this past weekend’s Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) writing retreat as a guest lecturer, and she offered one-on-one critiques.  Not only is she is great writer, but she’s a great friend to other writers.  What becomes immediately evident is her love of the writing process, and her sincere desire to help others achieve the best book they can.  During my critique, she grilled me (with a smile and great laugh) with questions I’d never considered before.  She pinpointed issues with my book that neither I, nor anyone else that has read it, had found.  I left my time with her, head reeling, barely understanding what had happened.  How did she know how to ask that perfect question, the one that unlocked stumbling blocks I didn’t even know existed?  How did she transform my entire book in only twenty grueling, intensely revealing minutes?  It was like some other-worldly Jedi mind trick.

Shortly after, I attended her lecture “Fixing the Sickly Book”.   A-ha.   She laid out her basic approach to critiquing, and I saw on paper the process to which she’d just subjected me.  I wrote down everything, taking ammunition that could be applied to my other wobbly books.

It’s a little fuzzy, but here’s Alvina Ling’s tweet of a picture of Holly giving her speech:!/planetalvina/status/181390325749776385/photo/1

If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of her lectures, go.  Not only are her points valid, but she’s a good speaker.  Funny, dramatic, and effective.  Big kudos to VCFA for inviting her to be a part of the weekend.  She was one of the factors that made the seven-hour-drive-with-a-broken-stereo-system worthwhile.

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