|Last evening of the writer’s retreat, Sunday Sept 12, 2010|
Hello dear readers,
Well, it’s over. Coming home from a retreat is a bittersweet experience. On one hand, I was ready to return to the comforts of home and family (not to mention a toilet I’m allowed to flush!), but on the other, I miss my little writing community horribly.
Writing is an isolating exercise. We sit at our computers alone, creating a world which no one else may ever see. If we are lucky, we have a trusted few who will read our work, congratulate us on a job well done, and tell us we can do better when we need to hear it. But to spend a week surrounded by like-minded people who are going through the same thing? It’s a heady experience.
|The retreat theatre|
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. I learned so much from the collaborative spirit of the playwrights. And if I ever decide to write for children, I’d do well to remember the work of Chris and Jana, who write beautiful, meaningful TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences). Ryan, Tiana, and Josh have such passion about bringing awareness to issues like racial discrimination, the youth justice system, and what it means to be different from your peers. I learned so much from them, too. And Warren–well, Warren is where we all hope to be eventually, making a living as a successful writer and artist. Warren is definitely living a life less ordinary.
|Susie & I went canoeing on Sat|
What did I learn for myself? I’ve learned that I can still be a lazy writer. While I’m great at plot, I sometimes shy away from creating fleshed-out, well-rounded characters. Real people have real pain, and bringing them to life means sharing that pain. It’s been a long time since I’ve had someone like Susie read my work. Once she got over her hesitancy to criticize me, she let me have it about passive language and my caricature protagonist. My book in its first draft stage was good enough to be published as-is, she said. It was slick, well written, and a good story. What it lacked was depth. Susie wasn’t satisfied with that, and neither was I. I can do better, and will. Thanks, Susie.
I spend my last day at the retreat furiously rewriting the opening chapter to Dragonfly Summer. I’m still not happy with it, but it’s a step in the right direction. I have two GIGANTIC rewrites looming ahead (Dragonfly Summer and getting Lost ready for the Minotaur contest), and I’m hoping the encouragement I received at the retreat will guide and inspire me. It’s time to stop being a person who writes and start being a writer.
Most of all, I’m grateful to Vern and Susie for giving us so much of their time and brain power. I didn’t fully realize how big a gift I’d been given until I was on my way home. Now that I do, I’d like to thank them with all of my heart. I not only gained the wisdom to make my novel better; I gained a family of writer friends.
And that, as the commercials say, is priceless.