Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Writer's Retreat

3 Days of no obligations. Nothing to do but relax, enjoy the scenery, and write. Nothing to feel guilty over not doing (i.e., there's laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, children to spend time with, a husband not to ignore).

Tricia and I spent 3 nights at the Lakeside Cottages in Green Mountain Falls, CO. ( It felt like being a guest in Kim and Lon's home, such is the care they show to their cottages, landscaping and guests. I can't remember the last time I've felt so relaxed. And having a good friend there with me was wonderful. Our days went something like this:

(1) Get up whenever and eat something (we had some groceries and a kitchen in our cottage). Maybe read for a few minutes.

(2) Settle in to write.

(3) Stop to ask questions: Does this sound all right? Can you read this when you get a chance? Can we brainstorm about this character for a moment?

(4) Write some more.

(5) Eventually need a break. Shop in the quaint town of Manitou, visit the Cliff Dwellings, take a walk around the lake.

(6) Pick up lunch or dinner while out.

(7) Write some more

(8) Stay up late talking

(9) Sigh over a satisfying day

(10) Sleep

(11) Repeat

In terms of word count, Tricia did better than I did. But I feel good about finally getting an opening scene nailed down that I feel good about. Maybe, in the end, it won't stand, but for now it's like having the foundation built - something that I can build upon, weaving in all those pieces of the story I've already written, and those that I need to fit in now that I've got a better idea of my structure (having gone through the Hero's Journey process).
I just wish I could recapture that feeling of utter peace and joy in sitting down to write that I had while in Colorado. Splended place.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back to Writing (Fingers Crossed)

Writers should never take breaks. That old axim - write every day. Listen to it!

Two months ago (or was it more???) I intentially took two weeks off my writing to focus on some other projects. I haven't been back to it since. That is, until now (or, well, tomorrow).

Today I arrived in beautiful Denver, Colorado to meet my friend Tricia for a mountain writing retreat. Tomorrow we head up to Green Mountain Falls, Colorado (doesn't that sound pictureque) and for the next 3 days, we write.

So far it's been a fun trip. Poor Tricia's flight doesn't get in until late. But tonight my dear friend Stephanie and I met for dinner (thanks for picking me up at the hotel!) and we had such a wonderful time that it makes me sad we don't live closer. That's the problem with on-line friends who become Surrey friends who just become friends. They invariable live too far away!

So, back to the writing part of this adventure. When last we saw our bold writing hero, I was working on my outline. I have to admit that I never quite finished, although I feel I have a solid structure that will take me through.

You know, it's interesting to observe that my last post on this blog related to The Hero's Journey was "Crossing the First Threshold". I wonder how much of my diversion from writing was due to that same hesitancy that many hero's face as they enter that Special World. One last (we hope) Refusal of the Call!

So, how do you pick back up after being away from writing for so long. That's the trick, isn't it? Characters and storylines fade from your mind - replaced with more urgent issues. When I'm working consistently, daily, on my story, my muse is always there in the background, thrashing things around and popping up throughout the day - at odd moments (like traffic lights, and while I'm folding laundry) to say "hey! What about this...?"

When you put the book away for a few days, the muse gets tired of being ignored, or at best humored, and eventually packs a bag and heads off to the beach (or wherever muses go when they get indignant over being ignored). Bringing them back from their vacation with tanned hunky men of their own creation can be tricky.

Today on the plane I went through my notes, trying to re-establish the framework of my story in my head. Tomorrow on the drive to Green Mountain Falls, I hope to brainstorm with Tricia (over both stories - hers and mine), so that by the time we arrive at our cottage, I've got a scene in mind and I'm ready to go. I'm almost looking forward to someone on-hand to brainstorm with as much as I am to having the focused time to write.

What about you? Do you have trouble getting back into your writing after taking a break? What do you do to entice your muse to come back and play?