Cultural Quarterly Magazine Online

Joyce SweeneyJoyce Sweeney's Writing Whirl
by Stephanie Krulik 

There are not enough hours in a day for this marathon writing machine to touch pen to paper.  Like a well-honed triathlete, Joyce Sweeney, the award-winning young adult novelist, poet, writing coach, workshop leader, manuscript editor and drama director, barely has time to finish one thought before a new one takes over. Life is intensive.

Sweeney has just returned from a writers' retreat, a “next level” Craft Intensive weekend for dedicated writers that is held five or six times a year in Florida. Her words pour out: "It happened again. I've watched a student make a breakthrough in her writing. She changed one character's voice and the story moved forward."

Sweeney gallops forward. She has teamed with Woodstream Writers Director Jamie Morris to offer writing prompts, plotting, characterization, voice and more in these comprehensive weekends titled, Love and Sequence; Memoir; Interpretation and Creativity. "Depth Charge," new for 2012, "will deepen a writer's work by making it more complex," she offers. "These sessions push a student to new levels. They get something they never understood before."

The GuardianWeekly invitation-only critique classes held in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel offices afford budding writers an opportunity to work with Sweeney. "To write a telling story that encompasses your own feelings is a powerful way to work through them. You're not just telling your side, you watch characters play together. You watch the words and scenes play out. By the end you know more about the topic then when you began."

The challenge is to know enough, write the right words and sign with a publisher. That's when it happens: one person who is dubbed “likely to succeed next” is handed a wooden rattle and quickl