Join that Zoom Meeting for Writers!

It was 5 am in Jerusalem and 8 pm Vancouver local time on November 2nd, 2021 when Rena Rossner joined the North Shore Writers Association, for a Zoom meeting.

I didn’t even have to go anywhere, yet I wasn’t sure I’d join at first. I may have Jewish friends, but I don’t write fiction. The hook, however, was that Rena Rossner is an author and a literary agent, and I am currently querying agents. She would talk about her last novel The Light of the Midnight Stars, “a lush, evocative combination of fantasy, history, and Jewish folklore.” I knew there is always something to glean from other writers, of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or their subgenres—search for a list of writing genres, and Wikipedia will give you hundreds of them!

Every writer has a style, method, and habits that draw inspiration. It depends on how the mind works. Rossner demystified the compulsory outline. Although immutable basics such as the narrative arc—in brief, every story must have a beginning, a middle, and a logical end—an outline is my sure way to a mental block. Instead, the working title and subtitle are my guiding lights. That Rossner is no different was reassuring.

Yet, as she did in her first novel, The Sisters of the Winter Wood, and her cookbook Eating the Bible, Rossner takes advantage of Scrivener—a word-processing program allowing authors to access and organize notes and documents. She feeds her free-write thoughts to the built-in outliner (!) then weaves them later into those outlined chapters. Scrivener is a tool I am now considering for my next memoir—a collection of (hence personal) short stories. 

Like most agents, Rossner receives lots of queries. She also needs time to prepare and attend book fairs—the world’s largest is in Frankfurt, Germany, in mid-October. And she was about to leave for New York for the National Book awards—one of her authors, Amber McBride, is a finalist for her book Me (Moth). Like most agents, she is very busy, that’s why not hearing back from her even beyond twelve weeks might not mean rejection. It didn’t go on deaf ears. And so, perhaps, one of my queries has survived triage and is waiting to hook an agent for good.

Fingers crossed.