This weekend I went to my first overnight writer's workshop /retreat since the Wesleyan Writer's Conference hundreds of moons ago. About twenty-one of us, wannabe novelists and three writing gurus, all good writers themselves, met at a retreat center in Chester, CT. Rural, nice hotel-type lodge without TV or room phones but with good WiFi, delicious home-cooked food, no booze but wine permitted in rooms and "bar."
Beautiful fall weekend, but we didn't mind being indoors, because what writers love at least as much as writing, which some of us have a love/hate relationship with, is talking about writing, and learning more about writing.
We read 20-page novel beginnings in our group of nine and came prepared to comment on them. Lots of beginning writers with much to learn, and it is gratifying to one who has been a "student" for a long time to realize how much of the craft has been absorbed if not always applied.
So, in spite of the fact that I had an old/new laptop that needed some upgrades, and a phone where I had to stand in the middle of the tennis court or parking lot to make a call, things went well.
Did you know writing is a craft? At least 80% of what you need to know can be learned, even where to find ideas. The germ of your story is up to you, but hey, stories are everywhere in personal life, anecdotes, observations, the news, history--stories are everything. Sometimes it's hard to know if you idea is for a short story, novella, or full-length novel, but you'll find out in the writing. Maybe your personal story lends itself to memoir, like Significant Other's.
Need I mention we had one man in the group? He didn't seem to be fazed or intimidated. Mystery writers, esp. writers of "traditional mysteries" and "cozies" tend to be women. Our man was not writing a cozy. Do you know what a "cozy" mystery is? Where more tea is spilled than blood, no sex, no on page violence (at least not much) and little if any bad language. Usually set in a small town, but not always. The suspects know each other. Justice is served. Lots of older females read cozies and they don't like the f-bomb, adulteresses, gore and mistreatment of pets. The romance genre has multiple rules and so do so-called "traditional" (think Agatha Christie) books. Of course you are free to stand any genre on its head but you're taking a huge risk.
Anyway, we didn't have any thriller writers, but we did have (including moi) two historical novelists, no mystery involved, at least not whodunnit.
I have some new ideas about how to make "Such Stuff As Dreams" more compelling and now at 70,000 words into the story, I'll finish up and save my notes for the revision. Did you know that "Writing Is Rewriting?" Did you know there are three rules for writing but no one knows what they are? Did you know there's almost as many books about writing as there are writers. Well, maybe I exaggerate, but not much.
Last thing gleaned from weekend which I probably knew already. If you eat dessert after each meal you will gain weight, "regular" sausage is much tastier than turkey sausage and bonding with fellow writers gives one a real "high." I haven't slept well since. Mind is churning.
Now, off to tweak what I'm reading to my writing group today. Yowza!