Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break Wonderfulness (i.e. the VCFA writing retreat)

Last week was my spring break. For the past few years, spring break has meant catching up on cleaning, laundry, and grading (and maybe a little reading or TV if I’m lucky). This year though, I did something totally out of the ordinary and I’m SO glad I did. I spent about 5 days in Connecticut and Vermont, first visiting with a good friend and then attending a novel writing retreat at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The entire experience was amazing

The retreat was exactly what I needed to keep me motivated and focused as I push to finish the latest draft of my WIP. The retreat started Friday evening and ran through Sunday afternoon. During that time we had presentations by 4 wonderful professionals: Dana Walrath, Kathi Appelt, David Gill, and Joy Peskin.  All of their presentations got me thinking about ways that I can improve my writing. Now that I'm home again, I can't wait to start practicing everything I learned. 

For instance, Kathi‘s presentation about character motivation really opened my eyes to some problems with one of my characters and David’s post-it note presentation on plotting gave me an entirely new way to layout my plot and look for holes. In fact, I’ve already put that lecture to good use by plotting out both my current WIP and my next WIP! Whoo-hoo! Plotting can be so challenging and I’m in love with this new technique. Now I just need to get the post-it notes on the wall of my office to keep me motivated!
Plotting out my WIP using David's post-it note method. :)

I signed up for the critique track during the retreat and received extremely helpful comments from my peers and one of the faculty members. Critiques are always helpful—particularly on those all-important first pages—so this was a great addition to the weekend. 

Saturday night the whole group (about 30 of us) ate delicious pizza and then read a few pages of our writing to the group. I’m not going to lie, it’s very intimidating to stand in front of a group of extremely talented women and read, but I’m very glad I did. Everyone in the group was friendly, supportive, and welcoming. I felt like I learned so much about the other attendees from listening to their work. 
Nervously reading to the group!
My only complaint is that I wanted to add a few more days to the retreat so I could get to know all of the women more! Well, that and the weather. It was cold. Clearly, Vermont is not the best place to spend spring break if you’re looking to get away from the cold and snow. It was like time-traveling back to January for most of the trip. But, honestly, who cares?!!   I don’t. 

Writing in my dorm room.

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to attend again next year. J

Monday, March 16, 2015

My One Year Blogiversary & Many Reasons to Celebration

This is an exciting week! First, I’m on spring break this week and that’s always a cause for celebration!  Secondly, I’ve officially been blogging for one year this week!  Whoo-hoo! 

I have to say I was a little intimidated when I first decided to start this blog. I’d never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure if I could sustain it. However, I’m really happy that I did it. This site has basically become my writing journal (…that the entire world can potential read). I guess that’s a little weird, but it works. It’s really fun to look back at old posts and remember some of the projects I've worked on and experiences I’ve had. It’s easy to forget things as time marches on and I love that I can always look back and reminisce about some of my writing “firsts.”

Given how well this first year has worked out, I have no plans to stop. In fact, that leads me to the third exciting event this week…my long awaited trip to the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) writing retreat!!!  Yay—I can’t wait! 

This will be my first time visiting Vermont College and I already know it’s going to be an amazing trip. I’m spending the first few days with a good friend close by and we’re going to have a little informal writing retreat of our own. Then we're off to Vermont to visit with my aunt and uncle and then a jam-packed weekend of speakers, critique groups, and writing time.

I always cherish my writing time and I hope to make the most of these next few days. I’ll definitely check back afterwards and give a full write-up!

Here’s to my one-year blogiversary and a wonderful way to start year two!