The Adventures of a Newbie
Written by
Zoe Disigny
September 2016
Written by
Zoe Disigny
September 2016

This is my first blog post on shewrites and I'm excited to be part of such a large writing community.

As a new member, I was encouraged to blog about my writing experience and I guess I'd have to say it's been a one hundred percent trial and error process. I'm currently working on my first book and have been for the past three years. (Who knew it would take so much time?) I do love the writing, though, and what I’m learning about the craft and myself.

My first "aha" about the enigmatic writing world came when I attended the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 2015 and learned a 20,000 word manuscript was not a publishable book length. (Don’t laugh! It honestly never occurred to me novels were supposed to be a certain number of words!) I think this best conveys how far out in left field I truly was (and pretty much still am). The world opened up for me, though, at that conference and I have attended three others since—each one a marvel of new information.

(By the way…is anyone going to the Southern California Writers’ Conference in Irvine September 23-25, 2016?  If so, maybe we can connect.)

Anyway, besides conferences, I’ve been reading a lot about writing. I find the Writer’s Digest magazine articles helpful as was Ken Follett’s Masterclass piece. (I loved his book, The Pillars of the Earth, my kind of story.) I’ve also read a couple of books about writing:  Stephen King’s On Writing and Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing. Both were excellent. I’ve listened to a few writing webinars and have been watching the Writing Creative Nonfiction video course by Tilar J. Mazzeo. I also took the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program MOOC, How Writers Write Fiction.  All of these have helped me build my understanding of this complex and stimulating discipline. I’ve learned to find beta readers for my drafts and I hired an editor to do a developmental edit of my story. Both steps were invaluable to me.

My book is now 60,000 words, still too short I’m told, so I may go the self-publishing route (which actually kind of excites me). I've done some research in that area and have even created my own publishing website (, but still have mountains to learn and any tips on the subject would be greatly appreciated.  

My story includes images of art works and takes place in the 1980s. It’s about Claire, a troubled art historian, who guides an eccentric stranger through Europe on a three-week art tour. As they travel, memories of Claire’s mother, wisdom from the old masters, and revelations about the traveling companion, all combine to give Claire an unexpected education and a new perspective on life.

So there you have it, a brief glimpse into my journey and my book. It’s been a surprising and satisfying ride so far. But one of the things I haven’t done and want to do, is establish relationships with other writers.  I would love to find a kindred spirit or two out there who would like to share and critique stories ... Anybody?


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