Report from my DIY Writing Retreat

Here I am on a weeklong stay-at-home, self-designed week of working on my new novel — my DIY writing retreat — and I’m thinking, “What do you do on a writing retreat during breaks? You talk to other writers!”

So here I am, kibbitzing with you, fellow writer. I hope you’ve had an hour or more of writing today — possibly you’re even on your own DIY writing retreat — and that it’s going well. My goal is to complete the first draft of my second novel, The Romantics. It’s a tale of two estranged half-sisters who inherit a house on the Ligurian coast of Italy, along with its resident ghost of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who once lived there. Their story explores the price of individuality and the depth of love of family, as well as the value of heart over head in mapping out a meaningful life. There are some love interests, but the two opposed sisters are at the heart of this love story.

And what I’m here to say at the water cooler, fellow writer, is that I’m going to make it. I’m going to finish this draft. At least I will by the end of Sunday. The holes in narrative are getting filled in, the setting enriched, the action made more specific. I really love plunging into the psyches of “my girls” and finding out what it costs to give up your own wishes in order to serve a greater truth and sacrifice what you must to do so.

Today, I got so near to being finished I was able to rewrite the pitch with what I said there. That means I’m really getting into the overview of the whole structure and the point of the story.I’m ready to write my killer query letter to see if I can snag an agent! Mark Jay Harris has a post on writing a killer query letter that I like for its specifics and examples.

Now that I’ve pushed forward so much, and it’s only Thursday, I need to give myself a treat. DIY  writer’s retreats should involve something nurturing, like beautiful scenery, horseback rides, evening concerts, and parties? I require for my treat some retail therapy. A blouse or two. If I had writing swag for my DIY retreat, I’d award myself this — but then I already did.

The next thing I’m going to do is to finish reading a great novel (women’s fiction with suspense) that I’m in the middle of. Reading a good story always inspires me, filling the well so tomorrow I can draw some up new scenes. I often read to inspire myself during my DIY writing retreat. Some ideas of inspiring books to read:

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Richard Wilbur, Collected Poems

Happy writing and reading!

 

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