Sunday, July 18, 2010

2nd Annual Writers' Cramp Retreat - Part 2

What I'm reading right now: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz 

In my previous post, I mentioned a bit about Dean Koontz and Stephen King. I was reminded of a quote by SK today and thought I'd share:

Talent is cheaper than table salt.
What separates the talented individual
from the successful one is a lot of hard work.


In the previous post I explained how my writers' group went on our own retreat/workshop weekend. This is a continuation of those three days.

Part 4 - You mean agents don't come to my door asking for my manuscript?

Margot led the group in a terrific workshop on writing query letters. She gleaned and culled this information from a workshop that Elana Johnson presented as LDStorymakers 2010. Brave and forthwrite, Margot offered up the original version of her query letter that she'd presented to Elana at LDStorymakers. She read it, with all of Elana's comments included. Then, she gave us a revision, and finally the final draft. We compared all three and I was amazed out how much better we can make a query letter (or a draft of any written work) even after it's already pretty darn good.

Part 5 - Open Mic

The standard operating procedure of our writers' group is for each member to bring about 5 pages each week. We say about 5 pages because if you've got a scene that runs 7 pages, we'd rather get the entire scene than have it split up. You make copies of your five pages for everyone else. At the end of the night, we gather the pages and take them home to critique them. What this equates to, is in addition to preparing your 5 pages for the following week, you also read and critique 40-50 other pages. At the meeting, we then go around the room and take 2-3 minutes giving our feedback--both things we loved and things we thought could be improved.

At this retreat, we wanted to give an opportunity for each of us to read our work aloud and then talk about it together. It's great to hear the author read his/her work. It is also beneficial to read your own work aloud from an editing aspect. You'll find things you otherwise missed or the fix for that troublesome scene will suddenly present. Someday each of us will do readings while on our book tours. These are some pictures I took during open mic:

Part 6 - Special Agent

Toward the end of the retreat, we were lucky enough to receive a special guest. Art and Margot have a long time friend, Shaughn. Shaughn is an FBI agent. For several hours we sat in rapt attention as he answered our questions about his work (those that he could talk about anyway) and shared stories from his adventures. This guy is the real deal. Action, intrigue, espionage, terrorism, life and death--he has lived it. Edmund Burke is credited with a well known phrase regarding "good men." Shaunghn is one of them.

If possible we would have let him go on all night. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we were favored to hear one of his original short stories--and it rocked! We all loved it and talked about it again and again for the remainder of the retreat. There are scenes from that story that still linger in my head.

I first met Shaughn a couple years earlier at a similar event. He shared an experience with us then that I later used as the basis of my own short story. The highlight of the weekend for me was reading to him the story that he inspired.

When Shaughn arrived at our little retreat, he and Art unexpectedly came through the door. I am the  unofficial/official photographer and documenter of our retreat, but I did not have my camera at the ready {fail}. I leapt for it in the hopes of recording this joyful reunion between old friends, alas, all I got was this:


I'll take what I can get.

Part 7 - I can't sing

Toward the end of the weekend, we had a special treat. Both Margot and Rose brought their husbands along, Art and Nefi, respectively. To that point they had both been great company as well as fantastic enablers. They both took on a lot of the non-writer responsibilities so we could focus on the written word. This included driving us down there, cooking and clean up, plus witty repartée. This night, though, we got a special treat. Art presented a workshop on the similarities of sing and writing. He shared his journey of song and how he eventually joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. One thing he pointed out is the learning process in both disciplines and how constructive feedback is critical to improvement and deconstructive critisim can kill the dream. He punctuated his comments by singing to further illustrate his point then wrapped  it all up with a short performance. You would do well to acquaint yourself with the Hovelys.

I love that one of Margot. I watched her watching her husband sing and the look on her face was one of pure love and admiration. Further proof that chicks dig musicians/rockstars.

Part 8 - The Papparazzi

Since I'm a bit of a camera fiend, or camera-o-phile, I spent a good deal of time wielding the lens to catch candid shots as well as document the events. For the sake of fun, here are the candids:

Part 9 - The Broken Glass: Non-sequitor
On day one, when we were just getting settled into the condo, we heard the clink-clink of a glass bouncing on the tile floor. This glass bounced at least 8 times. Each time it hit the floor we expected it to break. Each time it didn't, we thought that one of us would catch it. We didn't. It finally broke. These are the pieces:

How does this relate to writing or our weekend? I don't know. I said it was a non-sequitor. Maybe you can come up with an analogy and post it in the comments.


The Damsel In Dis Dress said...

love it love it love it :)

I also added it to StumbleUpon because that's how I show my love today.

Sabine Berlin said...

I am jealous. I need a writer's retreat. Maybe I should get one put together for my writing group.

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