Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rejuvenated from the writing retreat

I returned home from the 9-day writing retreat on Thursday afternoon and plunged back into the paid-work life yesterday. I've a lot of work ahead and I'm very grateful as there have been some quite lean times this year so far. At the same time, I've come back quite rejuvenated about my creative life. I'm winding up the 100 fictional prompts (wrote #77 and 78 today). I wrote 7 chapters on novel #3. I got some excellent feedback on novel #2 and am ready to do the third draft. I also feel the tug of poetry. So my challenge over the next couple of months is to figure out how to balance hours needed for paid work and hours wanted for creative work.

After retreats in the past, I've often come home to a lull in paid work as I've finished up projects before I left. But not this time. And after retreats in the past, I've come home with one creative project to work on. And the enthusiasm to carry me through. This time I have lots of work and lots of projects, so it will be an interesting experiment to see if I can keep my goal of spacious living, work a fair amount, and write a fair amount. May need to redefine "spacious."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Clarity arrives with feedback

Two long-time writing friends have read my novel during this retreat and last night I sat down with them to get feedback. It was exactly what I needed to hear at this stage. I'd gotten enthusiastic feedback from two other friends (not writers) and from my sister, who posed some interesting questions about directions that the book could go in. Now with information from Jan and Tamara, I feel clear about making it the best mystery I can at this point and letting the idea of literary fiction go for the moment, at least with this story.

They were very clear about the clues and scenes that needed clarifying and willing to talk over tiny details without being critical of style. Sometimes, when we are tempted to give feedback, we focus on things that the author uses that we would never use. That's all well and good, but each author has a right to her own style of expression and suggesting different word choices is an editor's job, not a reader's.

They had many margin notes of what was working and the places that didn't. I feel very empowered by all 5 readers now to move forward. I'm hoping this next draft will be the work of July and that when the Willamette Writers Conference rolls around and I pitch it to three agents, I'll get a nibble and be able to send it right off.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writing retreat day #5

I'd had a brief impulse before I got to the retreat to track my progress on either the retreat or my new writing project in this blog but I find the time has gone elsewhere. Today is Sunday and we're coming to the end of Day 5. It's been a wonderful time so far. I've written a couple of new prompts every day. I've read a bit in several writing books I brought with me. Some new information about character development to ponder and a nice confirmation that many of the suggestions of these seasoned writers are things I am already doing. I've had some quiet time for meditation and reflection. Long, lovely periods of journal writing and some good long walks.

And I've drafted four chapters on the new novel. The first two came easily. The third a little slower and today I had to wait almost all day for information or inspiration. The planners of novels, who outline it all, do all this invention in one big effort. Pantsers like me, who invent as we go along, have less control. I like the discovery process of this and it's good for me as well because I am by nature an impatient person and I was forced to rest and enjoy myself rather than be gungho productive today.

I've also spent time looking at some of the very interesting stories and characters and events that are showing up in these prompts that I'm writing and some of them seem to want to be in this novel as well. So I'm going to have to give that some thought.