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Winter Writeaway

three cabins in the woods in virginia

A week secluded in a cabin far from the intrusions and distractions of Real Life.

A cabin far from the intrusions and distractions of Real Life.

Seriously, What?
A few years ago my wife gave me one of the best presents an aspiring writer could ask for. A week away to work on my first novel. It was even more special because I hadn’t asked for it. Yet. I don’t know how she knew, but she knew. I hemmed and hawed, but finally settled on a little spot nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of Maryland between West Virginia and Pennsylvania: Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park.

Fast forward to 2019. A chance to get away once more, this time to finish the third novel, the opening act of the trilogy. No NanoWriMo for me, not yet. Ditto to seminars or conferences. Those will hopefully come after I finish the trilogy and resume the hard but necessary task of getting beta reads and editing.

Nuts and Bolts
How’d it go? I had two goals going in:

  1. Try for the final 18k and a completed novella.
  2. Eliminate the backlog of voice notes and hastily scribbled thoughts that had piled up since our return from Europe.

I barely hit 5,000 words. So much for goal #1. I did manage to transcribe, delete, or immediately incorporate the notes from three notebooks and over 200 voice notes. Yes, two hundred. Some were outdated, some just, well, awful. But there were some real gems as well. Goal #2 accomplished.

Lessons Learned
Plenty. I’ve had some of my greatest “ah-ha!” plot and character moments talking things through with my wife or my sister. As productive as writing in a vacuum can be, nothing replaces the inspiration and observations of others. Nothing. Skype and several calls to/from friends and family helped immensely. I stayed off of social media.

I was ready to quit
The voices of fear, of failure had reached a fever pitch. It was clear that I wasn’t going to hit my word count. Surely, rationalized their anti-muse, I brought my e-reader, all of these books and graphic novels for a reason. If reading is breathing in and writing breathing out, shouldn’t I devote time to breathing? To reading? And rest, yes, by all means, rest.

But I pressed on
Mainly because of a single voice note I had made to myself almost two years ago. I won’t share the contents. I will encourage any writer to take time, now and then, to leave yourself an emotional Easter Egg. Especially when you are in the throes of a writing, a creativity wave.

Where next?
I had such a good week. I’m happy with the words that came. Happier still with the plot holes I buried in the basement along with the doubt and fear that sometimes tries to convince all of us that our dreams are beneath us, above us, not for… us.

My characters revealed secrets they’d only hinted at before. They suggested new twists and turns that had me scrambling to redraw a plot line already dancing across the dry erase board like the northern lights. And the new line was so much prettier.

I haven’t been this excited about writing in ages. Thank you, love, for making it happen. Again.

Thank you friends and family for all of the amazing support. Thank you writers of Twitter, for the help before and after. You have no idea how much it means. Okay, maybe you do πŸ™‚

Bring on 2020!

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