Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What We'll Do and What We'll Eat

by all of us!

Luggage is being packed, snacks and ingredients loaded into bags and coolers, and all of us are itching to put on our comfy pants and get to work. Our annual retreat is something we all look forward to. And it's not only the chance to work uninterrupted by kids and chores and work and life--it's also the house, the fellowship, and the food! Each year we prepare dinner in pairs and the feast is always wonderful. This year we will enjoy chili and cornbread courtesy of Julie and Susan; roasted pork loin with baked potatoes served up by Joan and Pamela; and since Saturday is the first night of Hannukah, Kim and Elizabeth are fixing matzoh ball soup, brisket and latkes to celebrate. Desserts haven't been disclosed yet, but hello? Are we not six women getting away? It goes without saying that our collective sweet tooth will be satisfied.

Of course, it's not only our appetites we hope to satisfy. Each of us has plans and goals for the weekend. We thought it would be fun to share a taste of that (since we can't share the latkes!) with our readers. So here's what each of us is hoping for:

I always look forward to our annual retreat and this year is no exception. While I anticipated having a first draft completed, to read through and begin editing, such is not the case. Instead, I will spend most of my time in anti-social mode (except for meal times and late-night sharing) so I can put words on the page. I have a lofty goal of 5K words while there. Let's see if it happens! Plus I'm eager to get a new photo of us to put on our blog masthead. 

Since I am querying a manuscript, I intend to start researching for my next book. I also plan to read for fun, relax and enjoy escaping my normal routines. I may bring a sketchpad or even paint and canvas so I can “refill the creative well” in a way other than writing. I love to draw and paint, but when I’m home I always have so many other things more pressing to do. Of course, I also look forward to socializing with my What Women Write tribe.

I'm planning to get some words on the page while I am there! But I'm going to make my goal conservative rather than ambitious. I'm in the process of determining what my next computer will be--mine is dying, and the laptop I have is even worse--and so am contemplating  a longhand weekend. I'm pretty sure Santa is bringing me some really nifty new technology to help with my writing, but far be it from me to rush the elf to have it for the retreat. But I have to say, mostly I hope to recharge and come away rested and enthusiastic and ready to finally finish up this WIP so I can get it ready to query by the spring.


My brain is already going haywire from all the tasks on the table as I count down to the U.S. release of Calling Me Home. (Two months and 7 days!!!) I will likely spend much of our retreat time writing essays and answering interview questions for bloggers and writers' sites who have already generously offered to host me in February. I also hope to create a solid outline for my new book project, begun during my strange November (remember how I quit and started over?). I'm really excited about the new story and how it's coming along. My characters are strong, and their voices clamor for daily attention, I've set a good chunk of words on the page, and I think it's time to make a road map. As usual, I'm also predicting I'll do a lot of wandering around, grazing on snacks, and otherwise distracting my fellow What Women Write members! That's my specialty.

My goal for the retreat: Frame my next book! I’ve never been a snowflaker, but right now there are loose ice crystals spinning around my head. At the heart of every complex snowflake is a nucleus, my as-yet developed character. Armed with the memoirs of strangers, yellowed family letters, photocopies of my grandparents’ Ellis Island registry, the decaying bones of a buried manuscript and various articles on art and life and immigrants, I will sequester myself in a cubby somewhere and dig in. By the end of the weekend, I hope to have formed one cohesive, sparkly flake. And several twinkling floaters. I’m excited about our evening critiques and book swap. And of course, I’ll make time for wine and hot-tubbing.

I love our retreats… I have our three framed group shots on my writing desk and look forward to adding the fourth. Your faces--and the years we've investing in writing, critiquing and blogging together--keep me accountable to my words. At last year's retreat, I was querying agents. This year I'm blessed to have signed with an agent and am working my tail off to complete the final draft so we can submit it in early summer. Like Pamela, I'm going into this year's retreat with great ambition. Not only for word count, but for structure and organization. I have a lot of work to do and can't wait to dig in!

1 comment:

  1. Have a wonderful retreat, ladies! Thanks for a great blog. (And I look forward to seeing the new group photo.)


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