My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?
Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish.
I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.
Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.
With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.
Have you been on a writing retreat?
What benefit did you gain?
Did you achieve your writing goals?
Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts.
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.
Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.
My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.
So my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to write this post – so sorry for my tardiness. I have been busy tying up loose ends, revising freelance projects and ensuring I can leave for my writing retreat tomorrow with a clear desk. On the retreat I will only focus on my writing, which will enable me to ‘complete’ two manuscripts and add to another. These are my retreat goals.
Final read of Life in Slake Patch
Complete revisions and read through of The Twesome Loop
Continue to write my newest story, Bubble the Gruggle.
Enjoy no TV, no cell service and no WiFi.
Converse, share and enjoy my retreat companions company.
Indulge in the most fantastic meals.
Enjoy reading curled up in a cozy corner.
Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger – I will most certainly finished this book this week. Just love the characters.
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – chances are as this is more novella than novel that I will finish this book over my writing retreat as well.
Then onto new stories!
Learn from the masters:
Read works by highly successful authors to learn what earns a loyal readership. Read works by the canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.
This week I do not have any events to attend, (I know a complete shock!), however I will be working hard to finalize freelance projects in anticipation of the writing retreat I will be attending from Thursday. I feel like a little kid waiting for the escape of school term and the long expanse of the summer.
At our retreat we do not set course work or discussion topics, however I do set a prompt, which can be ignored or completed. It is for light relief rather than as an exercise. As for retreat rules we only have a few.
Respect other writers privacy. If their door is closed do not enter, however if it is open then visitors are allowed.
Meals should be taken together not only because they are delicious but it is a time to connect, discuss and refresh mind and body.
Remember to take breaks – whether a walk with a companion or alone, change your writing/reading location or to have a discussion.
Set your own writing goals for the retreat.
After supper gather to relay progress, connect and relax.
Some of you may know I spent this long weekend at the stupendous Strawberry Creek Lodge with a bevy of inspiring, funny and wonderful writers. I took a prompt exercise for us to consider during our stay. The prompt asked for everyone to chose 3 letters of the alphabet. These corresponded to partial book titles and created ‘new’ titles to work from. I would like to share my two titles and the short stories they inspired me to write. I hope you like them.
Tender is the Fury and Prejudice
Sasha swirled around in her gingham dress, enjoying its flaring circle around her waist. The dress was the first new piece of clothing she ever wore.
“Now Missy, be careful with that there dress. There ain’t another one coming for a long time.”
“Yes, Mamma, I’ll be as careful as careful can be.”
Sasha smiled at her mother, who sat in the rocker breastfeeding the new baby. With a new brother, Sasha was not the baby anymore and would sleep in the big bed with her older brothers and sisters. The new baby made eight in the family and the cabin even more crowded. Sasha sat on a stool letting her dress hang down but mindful it did not touch the floor.
Stomping footsteps announced the return of her brothers and sisters from the cotton field. She ran to the bedroom and took off the dress. Once it was folded and put in the dresser, she returned to the main room.
Her mother stood at the stove lading out bowls of stew and handing each tired child a biscuit. Sasha waited until everyone else was seated before taking a bowl for herself. Her father entered the crowded room and exchanged a weary smile with her mother. Sasha saw him glance at the baby and frown.
“Is it feeding, Annie?”
“Yes, Samuel he is…”
Sasha could not tell what the look on her fathers face meant but she saw a tear run down her mother’s cheek as she turned away from him. With her bowl taken to the washing bowl, Sasha sat beside the bay’s crib and rocked it gently. Her siblings cleared the tables, washed the dishes and exited the cabin leaving their parents to spend time together.
As Sasha soothed her new brother her father whispered words confused her.
“Is it healthy, will it live?”
“There’s no way of knowing, Samuel, maybe he will.”
“Another mouth to feed, its too many, Annie. We need to decide on her future.”
“Oh, Samuel, please don’t – we will manage, we have in the past.”
“I know its a hard decision, Annie but the offer is there and the money would make all the difference.”
“But she’s so young and…”
Her mother’s sob cut her sentence short. Sasha watched her father embrace her mother, rocking her back and forth like her mother did to Sasha when she suffered a nightmare.
Unnoticed in the corner, Sasha tried to make sense of her parents conversation. What was happening to who? Why was her mother so upset?
A week later a fancy carriage pulled up outside the cabin driven by a black man but dressed in white man’s clothing. Sasha had never seen such a thing and fussed to be released from her mothers arms.
“Stand still for one more minute, Sasha.”
“Mamma, why’s that man dressed so fancy?”
“Its cause of his job as a driver for the boss. Now hold still, I’ve one more ribbon to put in.”
Sasha fidgeted until the ribbon was tied then ran to the carriage wide-eyed. She did not see her mother clasp her mouth and hold back pleading words. She turned to Samuel who nodded and opened the cabin door for her to enter.
“Stay inside, it will be easier for the girl to go. Look after the little one.”
Samuel closed the door after his wife and descended the steps to stand beside the carriage and grasp Sasha’s hand.
“Is this the girl you spoke of Samuel?”
“Bring her here so I can see her properly. Does she know how to behave? My wife will not tolerate ill manners.”
“She is a good girl, boss and will learn quickly.”
Samuel picked Sasha up and put her into the carriage. She looked at the beautiful cushions and the bright white suite the white man wore. She was surprised when he turned her around, she thought he liked her gingham sress as much as she did. When the man opened her mouth and inspected her teeth, Sasha looked at her father but stayed silent when his brows lowered and he put on finger to his lips.
“She’s a pretty little thing, I’m hopeful my wife will like her, Samuel.”
The man gave her father a small leather pouch and sat Sasha on the seat beside him.
“Thank you, boss. You be good for the boss, Sasha. Do as you are told and only speak when spoken to.”
Sasha grinned at her father and nodded enthusiastically. I’m going for a ride in this fancy carriage, I’m so lucky. Samuel watched the carriage drive away until it was out of sight. He swallowed deeply several times before entering the cabin.
“She’s gone then, my little Sasha?”
“Yes, Annie, she’s gone.”
“Did she cry?”
“No, she was so excited about the carriage she didn’t turn around. She will cry tonight no doubt when she realizes she is to spend her life at the house but she’ll come around, so don’t fret. It’s a better life for her than the cotton field.”
“I hope so, Samuel, I really do.”
Annie placed her baby boy in his crib and began the supper preparations. Her tears mixed with the vegetable water as she peeled potatoes. She would delay telling Samuel she might be pregnant again. Later as her family ate, she reached out for Sasha’s hand but felt emptiness. She knew the money would help the rest of the family until the oldest ones left home but thoughts of what her little girl might have to endure in the big house haunted her dreams for many months.
To Kill The Windup Bird – this story has been removed as an extended version has been contracted to Steampunk Ink.