Just One Word…

RETREAT.

Or should it be WOW?

I returned from the first-ever Writing Away Retreat, hosted by the incredible Cicily Janus, and it was far and away one of the best writing events I’ve ever attended. More on that later, when I have more than a few secs to write. BUT…if you’re interested, check out http://www.writingawayretreats.com/. If at all possible, I’ll be there for the May 2009 retreat.

Meanwhile, here’s info on an opportunity to attend for FREE, from Cicily:

Description
Dishing up fear! Let’s combine my love for cooking and short stories! I’ve heard editors say that horror/thriller writer’s are hard to find. And good ones, even more difficult to find. So let’s prove them wrong.

CONTEST: Submit a short story or portion of novel UP TO 5K words to using this as your topic: “Dishing up fear.” Can be anything as long as it fits within this topic. Of course I’m looking for the very best writing, not just gore for gore sake. Not into that. I’m much more easily scared with suspenseful words…

Entry Fee: $10.00 USD via paypal.Once entry is sent into above email address, paypal invoice will be sent out. All non-paid entries will be discarded. For your money, you get a crit. of your short or novel excerpt and if it’s good enough, a suggestion of where you can submit the piece within the short story markets.

Deadline: January 1, 2009: Midnight. Must be submitted and paid for by that date.

Submit to: creativelivesworkshop@hotmail.com with Writing Away Retreats Contest as the subject line. Stories must be attached as a PDF/RTF/DOC file otherwise will not be opened. Any entry over 5K words will be disqualified. WINNER ANNOUNCED ON JANUARY 15th, 2009.

Winner receives a full ride to Writing Away Retreats worth 1000.00 USD. If winner wishes to bring spouse or friend to the retreat, he/she will have to pay the remainder of 750.00 of the couple charge. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to study your craft with the best in the field, bask in the creative light at a wonderful destination and taste some of the best food you’ve ever experienced all in one place. Good Luck!

Yours in Words, Cicily (www.cicilyjanus.net)

OH AND PLEASE REPOST THIS ON ANY SITES YOU MIGHT DEEM APPROPRIATE! Website for Writing Away Retreats to be updated with contest details and registration details for May Retreat within the next week or two.

When you’re working a ton…

Most of the writers I know don’t have the luxury of being full time, this-is-my-only-job writers. Most of us have other full time jobs as well. Sometimes several. So it’s easy to get into a place of putting in way too many hours, way too many nights in a row. How do we avoid burning out?

It’s on my mind because that’s where I am right now. I’m crazy-busy, for all the best reasons: paying freelance work, a book that an agent and an editor have both requested, another book that just received a fantabulous critique from the author-in-residence at the writing retreat I just attended, plus a science book series on the docket for a great small publishing house in Texas. I’ve been walking that fine line between energized and overwhelmed!

And I know I’m not the only one. At the beginning of the writing road, authors spend hours taking classes, cranking out first drafts, participating in critique groups, rewriting and rewriting–all in addition to their other full-time jobs. Authors farther along the career writers’ path spend days on the road promoting their books, visiting schools, and trying to squeeze in writing time in between the rest.

Balance: that weird, flux state that all writers–perhaps all people–strive to attain. How? How do we do it?

We start by taking time off. Completely off. If you’re working (if I’m working) ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day, you can’t survive without breaks that are just as intensive as your writing time. If you’re writing 24/7 (or if it feels that way), make sure there are a few hours when you’re not allowed to write. Use them to stare at the ceiling, walk the dogs, make nachos for your kids, cuddle by candlelight….and recharge.

Sure, you could read this sort of advice in any anti-stress article; but where would be the fun in that? Happy writing!

:) Cheryl

Trusting the Process

Time and again, I find myself striving to make my writing process more efficient–and time and again, it doesn’t happen. Although I can streamline some things–I’m a great fan of writing out character descriptions and plot outlines beforehand, for example–I can’t seem to shorten the amount of time it takes me to rewrite a book.

I was wondering this morning if that’s part of the process: spending time getting to know characters, plot, theme, setting.

I find myself writing lengthy passages of dialog in order to discover one key line; writing lengthy passages of description in order to capture the whole of it in a few well-chosen words; and writing paragraphs of theme-musings in order to draw out the core of what I’m trying to say. Ideally, I’d like to get to that one line of dialog, description, or theme the first go-around, but is that even possible?

I can make goals for pages to edit or write, but I can’t seem to cut down the number of passes it takes for me to make good writing excellent. And yet…it seems to work.

Trusting the process: I think I’ll post that above my computer.

:) Cheryl