Last weekend I was incredibly blessed to attend a weekend-long Story Vision Writer’s Retreat. Fourteen ladies from the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association came to hear Mick Silva teach and get a chance to just write. I had just finished up the rough draft of my seventh manuscript and my debut novella just released a week before the retreat. So that is where I am in my writing journey. Going into this weekend I brought two projects to work on. A YA novel ms. that I finished five years ago and am revising for the eleventh time and the blank outline for a middle grade story that I want to write for NaNoWrimo this year. I ended up focusing mainly on the novel outline.
Mick went over many different writing techniques and tools but the main focus of the weekend was capturing our personal story vision so that we can bring it to the page. This was good timing for me as I spent years and years on my fist novel ms. and didn’t sell anything until I wrote that fourth book ms. which I actually wrote very quickly. Now I’m working on my fourth novella for Pelican (the seventh ms. total), revising an old novel ms., and plotting out something new. It is easy to lose my vision since I’m kind of swamped.
I was feeling overwhelmed and concerned that because of the speed at which I was writing, my latest story would fall flat. Rough drafts are always bad. But looking at that rough story and wondering if I could ever turn it into something lovely and worthy of a reader’s time was so discouraging. And then I was revising that YA ms. from years ago that I’d never submitted and plotting out the new middle grade story? What was I thinking?
Stopping and really taking a deep look inside at why I write and who I am and how that can bring life to my writing reminded me that I have worthwhile things to say. That I am unique and if I pray and pause and slowdown and put the work into it, then I can do my best by a piece and that is all any of us can really do, isn’t it? I must let go once my best has been done and trust that It will be enough, even when it turns out that my best is not.
So the greatest value in the weekend was of an inspirational variety. A careful look within, in order to put what we have into story form. Then working to strip away the unimportant so that the reader can glimpse the divine truth that was there all along, that he just didn’t see before.
I also made some amazing friends, writing friends, who know the things I know and feel the things I feel. Writers are kind of strange and sometimes it is just nice to talk to another person who is as weird as you are. I also got some ideas for my story outline for that middle grade NaNoWriMo project. I’d been stumped concerning how to get my triplets to camp without their mother’s permission and still have them be heroic. I’m going to have their mother be conveniently kidnapped, which is always fun…and heroic. Then I got the ending image for my main character as he changes and comes to terms with his need to forgive. A metaphor based on watching campers at our little Bible Camp react to a thunder storm years ago.
So yes, it was a wonderful weekend, relaxing and informative. Perhaps most valuable because of the deep and lasting friendships I feel I have suddenly found. I’m so thankful to The Hunky Hubby for making this possible, even though he had a wedding to preform while I was gone. Three active boys, a hurt puppy, and a wedding, no problem! He made it work and made sure that I didn’t feel guilty for leaving. A priceless expression of love.