(Or being in the wrong place at the right time. – Mud)
I don’t remember the conversation last year about having a writers’ retreat. Truth. When I received the first email concerning a retreat, I sort of went with it. My first book was coming out, I started another, and I was starting a new business in publicity. Oh, and I was dead broke.
Usually a deal breaker.
But seriously, an opportunity to get away, write, and discuss other peoples’ work? Right? Who in their right mind would turn that down? Shut up, I already know I’m not in my right mind.
It got better. We had a volunteer to COOK! YES! Fistpump! I don’t mind doing dishes, but I’m the worst cook that ever used fire. Or a knife, come to think of it. I kept my hat in the ring. Whatever that means.
There were decisions to make about where to go. All sounded marvelous. The best was a ‘cabin’ in the mountains. Yeah, cabin. My home would fit on the back deck, next to the swinging bench. Four bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and three bathrooms. I’ll return to that.
Things happened, money loosened, and I was now a part of the great Writers of the Roaring Gap Retreat. May the Powers That Be help them.
Things decided, things reconsidered, things planned, things scrapped. A whole different Con first, (Romantic Times Con. Rocks, but overwhelming, particularly when set in New Orleans). I sort of forgot about ConCarolinas, the retreat, and well, everything else.
Which wasn’t a good thing, since I had 200 pages of edits to do by June 1st. Oops.
Quickly got cheese and wine, which are my annual contribution to the Magical Words Party, and packed my bag. Light. Delta is hell on going overweight. Please note this last sentence.
I arrived on Thursday, and began my edits, ignoring everyone, including my Canadian roomie. Okay, I always ignore my Canadian roomie, but this time I had a good reason. I plugged in her headphones to my computer, turned up the volume, and started adding commas that were indicated in pink. I went into a coma of commas. I despise commas. Actually, I want to ban the semicolon, but that’s a different story.
By Friday afternoon I was ready to hit the panels. The Magical Words panels offer education, fun, and some fighting. I love the MW panels. I learn a lot about wit. And snark. And writing.
Sunday, it was over. The scary part was about to begin, five women in a cabin deep in the mountains. Somewhere. I didn’t even know where. I forgot to mention this part to my husband. I do that once in a while. He recognized the mountains when I sent him pictures, though. He wasn’t quite sure what I was doing there. Me either.
See, all these women write. They write for people well above the age of twelve. I write from the POV of a magical basset hound called George, and feel like I’m floundering much of the time. So many rules for writing, and I break them all.
Oh. You mean those rules are for ADULTS? Well, okay then. Huh? What’s a gerund? Dangling participles? Isn’t that the name of my next dog, Gerund’s Dangling Participle?
No? Our Fearless Leader brought out her teaching hat and explained how sentences can convey emotion, just with their length. Short sentences can indicate action, the sound of a heartbeat speeding up with adrenaline.
Um, that didn’t work so well. George seldom ‘speaks’ in long sentences. I did understand the concept, though. I actually noticed it when reading Faith Hunter and Gwen Hunter. It was even in comic books. Okay, so Hulk might not be the best example.
Lastly, I didn’t have anything to offer at the critique sessions. I finished my edits, and the last thing I wanted to look at was Tillie’s Tale, and her pink commas.
That didn’t stop FL. Nope, I was banished from the cabin, and sent out to write. I found a nice bench on the side of the mountain, sat on it, and it broke.
Figures. I sat on the grass and wrote five pages, both sides, of the first chapter of Phebe’s Pause. I had something to discuss. If I could read my handwriting.
There is nothing better than being with other writers and going over ideas, flat spots, and things that really resonate. Then, there was me.
At least I got to hear a lot of wonderful stories. I also clogged the toilet, (we were saved by FL who wielded the plunger with great aplomb and dignity), gashed open my finger on a chunk of white marble I insisted on bringing back home (remember the Delta weight limit?), and managed to get a large splinter in another finger trying to do my exercises.
Too much Valium for a medical condition may have explained a lot of my problems. Perhaps the snoring on the couch? The fact the second half of Phebe sort of floated down the page. Or the fact I wasn’t coherent during a critique session? The clogged toilet?
Personally, I think I was invited as inspiration for new characters. I can’t prove it, but I’m going to read everyone’s work very closely in the future.
I managed to finish the first chapter of a brand new book, learn quite a bit about how to work with the language, and with the help of everyone, developed out an outline. Yeah, I know, I just had to be different.
Oh, the rock and Delta? It made it home. In two large chunks, some pebbles, and a lot of sand. How did the TSA manage to destroy a large piece of marble?