I’m back home, but my brain is still on vacation.
The past week, living in a bunkhouse in the woods in southern Oregon, taking long walks and waking each morning to a full day of writing, has refreshed me and grown my story.
I’ve learned it’s easier to work 12 to 14 hours a day, with short breaks, if I’m revising. That’s what I did the last two years on this retreat.
I dug my brain into my story and stayed there all week, only coming up for air at night to meet with the other writers and read some pages of my now-completed novel BODY COPY.
This time, I needed to churn out first draft pages for LOST NOTES, my 19th century historical novel. New work. Including that riot. Due to some last-minute changes, there were only two of us attending this women’s retreat, and both of us had brought first drafts. While eating meals and taking breaks from the computer, Emma Burcart and I talked about our work. We asked each other questions. We hypothesized and theorized and strategized and laughed and wondered. We walked through the beautiful landscape, startling bugs and other critters with our footsteps.
And you know what? We both returned home with much clearer visions of what we’re trying to achieve. Where the next pages will take us. How our characters are changing. Where we need to raise the stakes and how we might do that.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m planning to submit half my novel to my critique group this fall. Many writers warn against sharing unfinished work, but I trust these women after several years of working with them, and after this week’s fruitful discussions with Emma, I’m confident that passing my work into their hands won’t derail me. Or discourage me. It’ll give me a stronger sense of the manuscript—what works and what doesn’t. I love LOST NOTES, but their input will make it even better as I move forward.
Do you show people early drafts of your work? Or half-drafts? Or do you think I’m totally crazy to risk such a thing?