2015 Annual Writing Retreat

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It amazes me the passage of time, that something can seem to take so long to come around and then when it does arrive it seems like only days since it was last done. That was the case with this year’s retreat. It felt like forever waiting for August to come around and then once we were loaded up and driving along the highway it was as though we were only doing the same thing last week.

We stopped along the way stocking up on supplies (mostly chocolate and wine) and lunched and shopped. We discovered some new shops and were a bit disappointed that some of the favourites we discovered last year were closed. We stopped for a walk by the river, watched the birdlife and bought an ice cream from a van by the park – a strange sight in Tassie in winter but there you go.

Within an hour of arriving we were unpacked, fire blazing, workspaces set up and away we wrote.

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I recently struggled to focus and the edit of my fantasy novel moved much slower than I hoped. Although I had my notes for Raven Crown and Iski I knew I had to focus my time on my current fantasy novel.

I soon discovered (only hours in) that a complete change of point of view was needed. I may have actually smacked my head on the table. But I went back to chapter 1, put in my edits and changed the point of view at the same time just to test if it was really needed and then saved it as something new. And it worked – which meant my week wasn’t going to go as planned.

This also meant a change of practice. I have been working through someone else’s revision plan and I was 8 chapters in with only hand written changes on a hard copy of the manuscript (and throughout a notebook).

Over the retreat I revised and restructured up to the end of Chapter 24. Putting the edits directly into the document was so much easier and quicker than writing them out and then typing them in later (thanks writing buddy!). And I could see if the changes were working straight away.

It was long days of writing, and some of them really hard. But the rewrite was essential and I have a much stronger story for it. I dropped a couple of chapters completely, rewrote some new ones and restructured quite a lot of the rest. Now I can really feel my characters walking through the pages. There is still more work to go to finish the end, then to start back at the beginning to ensure it is the best it can be. I have also introduced a range of new characters that had only previously been referred to and cut a couple out. I have noticed as I worked through that some of the earlier details I had have dropped out and I need to make sure they are put back in. Setting will be one of those things I focus on with the next read through.

I spent most of one day working on only one scene. But it was well worth the time.

We also learnt the importance of backing up, checking work and versions and the like, after my writing buddy lost 9 hours of work. Thankfully it didn’t take her quite that long to revisit what she had been doing and save her sanity in the process.

The week went far too fast. I was sure that I missed a day somewhere. I came away with only 6 chapters to go and I felt that I achieved a lot. Not what I initially planned to do. But what started as an edit ended up being a major rewrite and a change from first to third person.

The retreat as always was just what I needed. It was a chance to catch up and talk writing but also hours and hours of uninterrupted writing time. I came home feeling refreshed and energised and most importantly more confident in my writing.

Since returning I have only focused on this one project. Just to be sure I get it finished and because it has filled my creative mind so much I’m a little nervous of distracting it (and I am easily distracted after all). So there will be no drafting or planning of anything else until I have at least finished this edit. And with my time only focused on this, it won’t take very long to get there. In fact I might be close to writing that last scene as you read over this post.

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