Reflections on a Writer’s Retreat

This past week, my mom (fellow author and fellow member of Per Bastet Publications) Marian Allen, hosted a writer’s retreat for the Southern Indiana Writers Group (which I am technically a member of even though I live in Louisville and rarely make the meetings). The retreat was in my late grandmother’s house (next door to my parents’ house) in the woods, which renters recently vacated–Just in time for NaNoWriMo!

While we didn’t experience any ghostly activity (which is why the renters left) whatsoever, we did get a lot of writing done! And a lot of drinking. And a lot of eating good food, despite the fact that there is no stove or refrigerator in the house anymore. Thankfully, the third member of Per Bastet, T. Lee Harris, brought a mini-fridge and a griddle and an outlet-powered cooler, and Mom brought her Instant Pot cooker, and there was a microwave. All the attending writers took turns making meals and cleaning up, and everybody brought some booze, and we had a great time talking story at mealtimes. The rest of the time, we were pretty quiet because, you know, WRITING.

And there was no TV and only a smidgeon of internet, but that was okay because WRITING! There were also no beds, so the options were floor, air mattress, or cot, but despite sleeping on the floor I zonked out at night because my brain was so worn out from WRITING.

The outcome: 22.5 pages (just under 6,000 words) in 6 days, plus I fixed a bunch of problems in the previously-written part of the manuscript. Not bad! And I’m still on a

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Grandma in her kitchen, c. 2002

roll, having written another 600+ words this evening (so far) after work. Plus I got to visit with friends, my parents (Dad had dinner with us one night), and my grandma’s house. Grandma would have been tickled to know we used her home for a writer’s retreat, and even more so that two books she was particularly looking forward to reading were being drafted there this week. ❤

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NaNoWriMo: My Way

So I’ve only successfully drafted a 50,000 word manuscript one year out of the four I’ve participated, but I still love National Novel Writing Month, which is November. If nothing else, it’s something to look forward to about an otherwise cold, rainy, darker-by-the-day month that’s only a taste of the icy misery to come (can you tell I’m not a winter person?) Besides, any event that encourages creatives to prioritize their creativity is a Good Thing in my worldview. I’ve badly needed to prioritize writing and haven’t been very disciplined about it, so that’s my main goal this NaNo.

And I do have a leg up this year, since I’ve already drafted the core of my storyline in just under 20,000 words. Now it’s a matter of building around it and making it coherent, tying together loose ends, and writing the ending. Easier said than done, of course, but it sure beats having a zero word count and no direction! So yesterday I re-read what I’d already written and today I added 1,000 words–500 before I wasn’t sure what to do and another 500 after I took a shower and worked out what the story needed.

So, to all of you who are doing NaNo, either by the official rules or adapted to suit your own writing purposes, happy November, and good luck to us all!

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