Stacy loves to travel and to write.
A native New Yorker, Stacy Rogers is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned a Master of Education and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. She’s been working as a teacher and psychological counselor for the New York City Department of Education for twenty years.
As a fellow teacher, I can’t say I blame her for heading far from the classroom when spring break comes. Her travels have taken her to the Himalayas, the Andes, and the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Each time she has returned home, she’s been transformed. “The Intent of Bhutan,” “Truth in Tiananmen,” and “A Calling in Cambodia” are among her travel stories.
A few years ago, the call came to write a novel. “I was writing travel essays at the time,” says Rogers, “so the thought of writing a novel seemed farfetched. Yet, when I think about the direction and encouragement I received from Ben during the seminal stage of this unintended journey, the confluence of idea and opportunity extended beyond coincidence—it was a blessing.”
“When I think of the direction and encouragement I received from Ben…it was a blessing.”
Set in Bhutan and Morocco, the novel-in-progress (it has no working title yet) centers on two protagonists: a 15-year-old girl expelled from her home by strict Muslim parents; and an orphaned boy pained at the betrayal by the monks he sees as moral authorities.
The manuscript draft got off to a very strong start—six solid chapters, over twenty thousand words. The protagonists were introduced, and their unique settings beautifully depicted, with wonderful verisimilitude and detail drawn from Rogers’ travel experiences. The protagonists’ main goals and conflicts were tantalizingly established.
That’s when Rogers became eager to understand what was working and what wasn’t, so she could direct her energies most efficiently. Every novelist wants to understand how things look from the outside—the only view they can’t obtain on their own. I helped provide that perspective.
Our process goes like this. Stacy delivers me chapters when they’re ready. I do a close reading, marking the manuscript with questions, some corrections, and other observations. I provide a detailed written report explaining my reactions and responses, posing questions, offering example edits and rewrites. But rather than overhauling the prose, the thrust of my feedback aims to guide progress and hone the works’ style. I deliver my report, giving Stacy time to absorb it and reflect; then we get on the phone. Discussion gives Stacy a chance to ask follow-up questions and dig deeper on the issues at hand. I want every client to feel 100% clear on what I’m saying and to be able to make use of it. Discussion ends with talk of planning the work ahead.
The nature of the feedback is wide-ranging, and includes these craft topics, among others:
- how point of view is handled
- narrative closeness
- character psychology
We also consider themes, cultural and historical content; choices made in dramatization—everything an editor would address if the book were going to print.
“Ben has remained at the helm with me, coaching me on the nuances of literary terms, and showing me what happens when a writer blows life into each, simultaneously,” says Rogers. “For nearly two years, Ben has guided me toward a deeper understanding of the symbiotic balance between knowledge, skill, and application, and is teaching me about the magic that is borne of thoughtful orchestration and fearless execution.”
Rogers describes herself as a lone wolf by nature; she doesn’t suffer too much during those solo hours spent at the keyboard. But she’s found tremendous value in adding outside inputs to her writing process, such as participating in literary circles and conferences. “They keep me connected to the writing community and are wells of information and support. They serve in tandem with the clarity I glean from solitude, and with the sensitive yet straightforward instruction, reinforcement, and inspiration I receive from Ben about the craft of writing and the writer’s life. The community, the writer, and Ben…symbiosis of a different sort, synergy at its best.”
If you have a novel or story collection in progress and would like to work with me on its development, email firstname.lastname@example.org.