By Bonnie Leon
Last week, I completed a grueling round of edits for my upcoming book, To Dance With Dolphins. The last night of editing, I pressed on until 4:00 AM, determined to finish. By that time, I wasn’t certain I even liked to write. I was no longer convinced I knew anything about the craft of writing. And I wondered why I was writing at all.
To be fair to myself, I was weary. At sixty-three, my body doesn’t respond to pressure and endless hours of work the way it once did. And I relearned a lesson I’d been taught many times through the years. At twenty-one books and counting—I still have a lot to learn.
Smart writers never stop learning. If we reach a place in our careers when we believe we’ve “arrived” and have no reason to listen to others who teach or take the time to digest the workings of great books … well all I can say is that whatever lands on the pages of our most recent work will likely feel stale.
Writers should never stop learning.
While working through revisions on my most recent work, To Dance With Dolphins, there was the usual goofy stuff that shows up, and the passive phrases I didn’t catch, scenes that might work better if placed elsewhere or might best be tossed out altogether—the kind of alterations a writer expects. My editor is creative, works harder than any other I’ve ever worked with, and refuses to settle for mediocrity. She expects excellence.
This kind of editor makes life harder, but my writing thrives. I’m indebted to her because her work ethic strengthens mine. The Journey of Eleven Moons, released in 2014, and was my first introduction to Deep Point of View, and is a better book because of it.
One of the biggest lessons for this writer on this new project, To Dance With Dolphins, was all about DPOV. I hadn’t mastered it yet. When I stepped into the writing world, more than twenty years ago, there was no talk about DPOV. I learned the craft when it was acceptable to write from a more distant place, saying things like, “Claire wondered, or Tom felt. That was fine in its time, but no longer.
Still endeavoring to master this new tool (I hadn’t arrived), I missed opportunities to create powerful scenes that draw readers deeper into the story. I am learning, and with the combined efforts of my editor and my personal desire to hone my craft, I believe that my new book is my best work to date.
I’m not yet ready to teach DPOV, but I will be, thanks to a young editor, Christina Tarabochia, who won’t let me rest on my laurels.
I encourage each of you to do the work, to become the best you can be, and to knock the socks off of readers and reviewers. And in so doing, make a positive difference in this oh, so dark world.
Grace and peace to you from God.
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the recently released Where Eagles Soar,the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons and bestselling series, Sydney Cove. In 2014 Bonnie branched out into independent writing with her first ever memoir, a story about A Native American woman who grew up in the Alaskan wildnerness where she learned to hunt, trap, and survive. Her greatest foe, however, was not the grizzlies or wolves in the wilds, but rather her father. Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother. Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren. You can find bonnie at https://www.bonnieleon.com and