My husband and I arrived home late Sunday, and so I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on my time at the Dreamweavers INK Writers Retreat this fourth year. Here is my takeaway from the two-day event.
If you’re open, you can receive as much as you give. A retreat is the perfect atmosphere for conversation, both writerly and non. It’s a place to exchange ideas. For example, these folks come from two different critique groups that meet monthly, and they had mentioned times when meetings have been cancelled because not enough writers had something to be critiqued, yet they acknowledged how important it was to come together as writers. I told them how my own critique group had encountered this, and that we were now finding it convenient to use the downtime for a group write-in. (A write-in is when writers meet for a period of quiet writing time alone, then perhaps spend a small portion discussing writing or merely socializing.) Peoples’ lives are so busy, and they welcomed an hour or so away from home (a place filled with distractions for many of us) to focus on writing, I told them.
They liked the idea.
As for me, I learned what an amazing teacher my friend P.J. O’Dwyer is when it comes to helping others grasp complicated material. She is patient and helpful and knows how to break down difficult concepts into understandable language.
I learned a helpful tip from Kim H., who recently launched her book, about how to look for agents via Twitter. Definitely going to look into that when I’ve finished revising my novel.
Recita inspires me with her vast knowledge of books and authors, plus her wonderful example of regular, consistent writing which has resulted in three published novels, a fourth in revision, and a fifth she’s begun. What a great example–and a great writer!
Kim S., a writer of historical fiction, knows a lot of cool facts from not only the time period she writes about, but about many other times in history. As a history buff myself, I love hearing the stories behind the stories. She also nailed the genre switching scenario exercise with a short story about an “average” protagonist and her job as a reluctant mortician to mobsters–all in the humor category! I wanted to read more, but, alas, that was all she’d written!
And speaking of the genre switching category, I loved what Rick did with his challenge. He had the fantasy category, and so because his was set in a medieval time period, he couldn’t use the rather modern pool alarm. So what did he do? He substituted a banshee–though I’m not sure if he meant rooster or fairy, but either works. And the pool in which a body is floating became a pond. Great use of the creative muscle!
For dramatic readings, Sue did an exceptional job! The group was tasked with reading someone else’s work with inflexion and different voices, and she had us so involved in her rendition of the story excerpt! I asked her about it later, and she told me she had tried out for different dramatic roles in college, and she had a particular love of plays and acting.
Deb’s YA submission was strong, and her premise for the story was unique. I really liked it when I read the submissions prior to the group arriving. She used her time well at the retreat. Whenever I saw her, she was typing away on her laptop. I’m not sure if she was working on revisions for her YA or starting a new book, but she kept plugging away.
The key to any writing event, whether conference, workshop, or retreat, is coming with an open mind ready to learn. It doesn’t matter if you are there to teach a class or you’re one of the participants. Don’t think you’re beyond learning something new. Listen to other writers. Absorb the creative atmosphere. Let the excitement stir you past the weekend and into the days and months ahead.
Farewell, Deep Creek, until next year!
Did you attend a conference, workshop, or retreat this year? Tell us about it in the comments.