Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing Retreat Recap

This weekend I experienced my first ever writing retreat. And I say "experience" because let me tell you, it was an experience! I was nervous, like ridiculously nervous, about going. I mean, I was excited to have the opportunity to go as well, but I knew I'd be spending the weekend with amazing authors. Authors that have a talent for the written word that I only dream of having! 

I arrived mid-morning on Friday and got settled in for the weekend. On my bed was an awesome bag of goodies (courtesy of the lovely Jo Whittemore) and our schedule for the weekend.

And once I got used to all the... amenities that the lodge had to offer, I was okay.

I've been in a rut with the MG I've been working on for the past forty years month. While I love my characters, being with them for this long has been exhausting. However, all that changed last week! I did some thinking and plotting and after reading Save the Cat, I found myself rejuvenated with my story and excited about it again. I was excited to dive back into my story and spent all of Friday rewriting or editing. I got through the first 10,000 words!

Friday evening after dinner we all read the first chapter of the story we were working on. For the most part I don't have stage fright or anything, but I was so nervous I was shaking. I'm so insecure about my writing, it's something I always keep close to my chest. What if I show it to someone and they don't like it? Or what if I'm not even good? I don't want someone to tell me I'm a good writer just to pacify me, but I don't want to feel like I've wasted the last nearly two years of my life writing full time either.

As I sat and listened to everyone's excerpt, I got even more nervous, if that's possible. Every single person that came on this retreat was so talented, I was blown away. We had MG authors and  YA authors and picture book authors and illustrators. Where did I fit in? I'm not even agented and most everyone else has at least two books under their belt! Talk about intimidating.

It came my turn to read all too quickly. I forced myself to read slow and clear. Why was my chapter taking longer than everyone else's? Once I was finally finished I cringed internally, preparing for my worst fear. Much to my surprise, everyone loved it and was very encouraging. Whew! For the first time in a long time I went to bed feeling proud of myself. Proud of the decisions I've made in life to go down this crazy path I've chosen, and proud that I conquered my fear of sharing my writing with others.

Saturday was much the same. I spent the entire day working and managed to rewrite or edit around 7,000 words. While I still have a long way to go on this book, I can't believe I managed to get 17,000 words edited this weekend. That's roughly a third of the entire book! Why can't I work like this every day? Oh right. A little distraction called The Internet. ;)

We sat down to dinner that night and I said a prayer of thanks for every single person in that room. Had I not had this weekend away to be inspired again, I'm sad to say this book may have died a horrible, sad death. So thank you Jessica, PJ, Kari, Joy, Christine, Jenny, Cory, Bethany, Salima, Jo, Emma, and Nikki. Thank you for your laughter, and for sharing your beautiful words. And thank you all for encouraging me and being such an inspiration to me as a writer.


  1. So happy and proud of you!!! I can't wait to come to your first signing and tell everyone in line that I knew you when!!!

    You're awesome!

  2. I am so happy you were at the retreat! I loved every minute of it, and can't wait. Great recap, and your WIP rocks!!!!!

  3. So much fun! Love the recap. And truly loved your writing. You have such a deep well of talent. I cannot wait to see where you go with it.

  4. Sounds like that retreat was just what you needed! What an opportunity too! Glad you're refreshed and inspired :)

  5. Your story is amazing! So happy I got to witness it in-progress. And had so much fun with you!!!! I will wear a camo robe with you anytime.

  6. Yay! Sounds like a rewarding and fun time!

  7. It was a fantastic weekend, and I was so excited to hear some of your work. Your chapters are amazing, Stephanie. (And I couldn't tell at all that you were nervous when you were reading!) :)

  8. This weekend totally rocked! So fun hanging out with you!