First Drafts: what to do with rewrite suggestions

If you’ve stopped by here of late, you know I’ve spent the past few days at a writing retreat where I’ve received feedback on some of my writing. Most of that feedback was on my latest WIP, VOICE, the story of teenage Cass and her father as they return to the island where her mother was murdered twelve years before.

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I’m about a third of the way through the first draft and have cranked out a LOT of pages over the past week. Now, I have some terrific feedback on the first 40 pages from several different authors, editors, and agents (and yes, an offer of representation even, but I told him I was already taken, Gary.)

Writing question of the day: what the heck do I do now? Do I continue to plow forward with the first draft, to get it out? Or do I sacrifice my forward momentum to incorporate comments while they’re still fresh in my mind, laying a firmer foundation for the pages that follow?

:) Cheryl

Bottling a bit of life

iStock_000002707616XSmall I want to bottle it up: this delightful self-confidence. I’ve come home from my writing retreat feeling like there’s no stopping the words that pour from my pen…feeling beautiful and interesting and funny and yes, I do cave to the occasional attacks of writerly insecurity in all these things. I think I have a pretty decent self-concept most of the time, but in this business of writing, where feedback is rare and minimal, it’s easy for my heart to override my head and drag me into self-doubt.

I don’t think this is an uncommon problem. I’ve taken to asking fellow writers about their struggles with self-confidence, and every person I’ve asked has a story about their own moments of doubt. this includes writers of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds; writers who are just starting out and those who have their first book on the shelf and writers who have won national awards and well-established careers.

I think of these as self-doubt attacks—as someone or something that lays siege to my self-confidence. I know I’ll have others in the future, maybe even soon, although I suspect that this recent writing retreat will hold me for the next few months. So…how can I bottle up all the feedback, encouragement, and inspiration I was given in the past week? Should I write myself a letter? Make a “down day” file? Or do I have to plan to attend another retreat event in six months? Although that last idea is certainly attractive, I’m not sure I have either the time or money to do so.

What about you? How do you hang onto those moments when all is right in your world? I’ve been given such a gift in the past week and a half. I want to savor every bit of it!

:) Cheryl

Theoretical distractions in snowy Colorado


Theoretically, a Colorado writer could get totally derailed because the next words in her sentence are supposed to be the name of a teen folk-rock band.

Theoretically, she could then spend an hour or so looking up teen bands, band names, and baby names (that might become a cool band name;) and, also theoretically, that might lead to time spent reading blogs, researching the local band scene, and investigating the band names that are already out there.

This could take up a lot of a writer’s time.

I’m just sayin’.

:) Cheryl

Back in the real world

iStock_000004825825XSmall[1] After ten astonishingly wonderful days at the Writing Away Retreat in Breckenridge, CO, I’m back in the real world—richer by several friends, a list of books to read, a pile of thoughts to pursue on writing and life, and a host of questions generated by late-night philosophical conversations in the hot tub.

I’m also poorer by many hours of sleep, which I hope to pay back ASAP. In my experience, sleep debt is not a good long-term investment.

So here I am, feeling a bit daunted by piles of laundry and bills and a poodle whose hair is WAY too shaggy, but at the same time filled to brimming with inspiration, encouragement, and renewed confidence that I’m on the right track writing-wise. Homecoming is sweet; I’ve been homesick for my family for the past week. And at the same time, I’m now homesick for my cozy writing spot by the fire and my new, wonderful friends.

Ultimately, that’s what a writing retreat can give you that a conference cannot: concentrated time with other people crazy and wonderful in the same ways you are. Nowhere else in my life have I met so many people I loved so much in such a short space of time: funny, irreverent Deb with her book proposal that will challenge readers to think and change; ever-cheerful Chris, with her amazing YA voice and cool plot twists; quiet Bryan, with his puckish hair and wit and a vortex in his apartment; clean-cut Brandon, with his habit of reading the first half of an amazing short story so you had to track him down later to discover what happened; innocent-looking Aaron who talks his (amazing) scenes out loud when he thinks no one is listening; and, of course, our wonderful host Cicily, who has an endless number of tales of jazz, interviews, and this crazy writing life.

Wow, and that’s not even CLOSE to everyone who left a major impact on my life. And I only mentioned my fellow writers, not the faculty, some of whom I know will be lifelong friends.

Save your money. Plan your time. Do something like this retreat . It will change your writing life forever—in an amazing way.

:) Cheryl