It's five thirty on Friday, 16th March and I have arrived at this weekend's writing retreat. Yay! If you've followed my previous blogs or Twitter you'll already know that I love writing retreats. I view it as a planned hibernation from the rest of my life so I can indulge my imagination in the current project eg. book 4. I set goals, I tweet goals, I stick and conquer writing goals on a writing retreat. To be frank, I would recommend any writer, published or aspiring, books themselves a 48 hour weekend retreat to focus on their passion. I'd do longer, but as you know, I have a day time job so, Monday to Friday isn't possible.
Anyway, this is the third time I have attended this particular retreat organised by Alison May and Janet Gover, who are excellent mentors by the way. I wouldn't return unless I felt it benefitted my writing psyche, would I? I can honestly say, I have left my 'real' life behind but that's what I do on a retreat weekend. I pack my case, kiss husband goodbye and hope my dog is properly nurtured in my absence but I leave 'my world' behind. I step into Narnia and write. I indulge myself guilt-free for the duration knowing that come Sunday evening, I will re-enter 'my world' via the wardrobe doors and life will resume.
So, my plan for this weekend is quite simple. I am working on a rewrite for book 4. It currently stands at 404 pages but was originally written in first person narrative. I've been steadily working my way through each age changing it to third person narrative. By Sunday evening, I wish to have reached page 404 and go home with a manuscript in my desired viewpoint.
The manuscript was written five years ago, and even I can see that I have progressed as a author in that short time. I initially created it in first person as I felt it was stronger more emotional but... now, I feel differently. So, begins the laborious task of changing the viewpoint. Part of my laughs that I should even consider doing this as I have always been a '1st person' type of gal but I may reached a lightbulb moment that the tale 'feels' stronger in third person. Anyway, I'm going for it. I'm currently on page 247 of 404. By Sunday night, approximately 5pm, I wish to be on 404 of 404. Enough said, it's now nearing six o'clock and I have a date with a bunch of writers and a large Zinfandel in the bar for a get to know each other chat before we tuck into a gorgeous dinner.
(I'll update as the weekend unfolds... rest assured I'll hit my weekend goal, I'm determined x)
Update: After a delicious evening meal, our mentors led a discussion about genre and the importance of understanding the specifics of our story. Our discussion developed to include specific marketing, sales and difficulties arising due to multiple genres. I currently feel that my current project book 4 is the darker side of RomCom. Which doesn't sound quite right given the expectations of RomCom, given my project mixes the lighter and grittier elements of life. Anyway, I need to give genre more thought before I proceed to prevent travelling the wrong track and creating an issue. I finished the first evening with a late night writing session in my room working on viewpoint.
Update: Saturday 17th March.
I woke very early so I could work before breakfast. I managed to convert a few pages from first person to third person so felt happier at starting the day so earlier. It had started to snow by the time I came out of breakfast, so I quickly dashed back to my room for a 90 minute session of work. Our first workshop was at 9am so I happily worked until then.
Today's sessions have focussed on:
I also had my one to one session with Alison May - which confirmed my own thoughts regards my current project. I need to complete my conversion to third person before going back to the planning stage before I do the rewrite. Phew! It seems like a lot but it will be worth it in the end. It might sound like one step forward and two steps backwards but it will be progress. I also had another light bulb moment in a workshop on generating ideas in relation to a future book that my brain is hatching - so I felt I killed two birds with one stone this morning.
At 4pm, some of the group nipped to the bar for a quiet break before returning to our rooms to work. I've plodded along and am grateful to have reached the 300 page mark.
So, my current work plan is:
Saturday night update: I had to be realistic come Saturday night, was I going to make this deadline. Deep down I thought no. How could I convert 105 pages with one day to go. I'd listed my potential writing session during the previous post so knew it was going to be tight. I made the decision that I was going to go for it but if I missed the goal, I would be completely honest with my readers. I'd complete once I had arrived home.
We had our evening meal, the group had a question and answers session afterwards and at 10:30pm I brought myself back to my room... to work. I worked until 1am in the morning which took me to page 330. I fell into bed, knowing that I had to be up at 6am to repeat the effort.
Sunday morning. The alarm rang at 6am, up I got and straight to work. After breakfast, I returned for another mini work session before packing my suitcase and checking out of my room at 9am. By the time the morning's workshops began I was at page 348. It seemed a long way off from the finishing line of 406.
Our mentors led us through two informative workshops on editing and the techniques of editing - which were most useful. It gave me chance to reflect on the routine I usually choose. I might attempt to change my system when next editing and see how it fairs. Editing isn't my favourite task but I have learnt to enjoy it more in recent years.
11am signalled a two hour break in which we were encouraged to work. I settled myself in the silent room and away I went prior to our lunch. I managed to work through to page 389. Suddenly, with 17 pages remaining my goal seemed realistic and maybe the dread of not completing started to fade.
The afternoon workshops were focused upon 'Things our mentors wished they known before being published' - a very honest and frank discussion for the benefit of us attendees.
The final session saw us setting our goals for: next week, next month and the next six months. I have attended this particular retreat three times in the last two years and have completed this task each time. Its vital to know what you're aiming for. At 4pm we broke for coffee and cake which signals the end of the retreat. I quickly consumed my goodies and returned to my manuscript. It didn't take me long to complete the final 17 pages - but boy, did it make a huge difference to my sense of achievement for this weekend. I had completed what I had set out to do. Enough said.
This week has been very exciting for me as Brook Cottage Books organised a blog tour for ‘The Single Girl’s Calendar’. As a reader, I used to love blog tours because I felt I was gaining insider knowledge from the professional readers before spending my precious pennies. I still feel the same way, now that I’m an author. Below are just a few of the beautiful reviews received this week. I can only say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ to Brook Cottage books and the army of bloggers and reviewers who participated.
The Single Girl's Calendar available on Amazon in ebook or paperback
Brook cottage Books
An interview with Erin: