Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seascape Writer's Retreat

I went on a writer's retreat in New England a few weekends ago, I tacked on a week at a seaside cottage in the area to make it worth my drive. In retrospect this was probably not a good idea. I felt so pumped at the end of my "weekend with writers" that all I really wanted to do was hide away in a room and finish my book. Sunbathing on an Atlantic beach was the farthest thing from my mind. I wanted to write damn it and here these kids were begging for my attention. You`d think I had been away for three days or something.

So now I am home and fully removed from the critique groups and the information sessions. Over my vacation though I was able to think about what my fellow writers said about my work in progress. I would say 80 per cent was helpful and even encouraging, the other 20 per cent just served to confuse the crap out of me. No guff. And now I am stressing. Stressing about whether my preference to keep something is, in effect, literary suicide. Stressing about my voice, style and use of language and wondering if I truly am `wordy` or if I am remaining true to my historical genre, and my formulaic style.

I was the only person writing a historical and it was a challenge to convey that, yes, I have done my research and yes, I am not just `making this stuff up` because it makes for a good backdrop.

I feel great about my character though, Peter Ainsley, and my ability to spin a tale. The style in which I tell it, well now, isn`t that the subjective part? Isn`t that all up for creative interpretation?...oh great, now look at me, I am one of those whiny, defensive attendees who is just digging my heels in and claiming it to be art, an expression of me and my pysche. Good Lord, I am in trouble.

Changes I will make, but only after I finish. Nothing negative was said about my story and did get many encouraging words in this regard, so I believe in the whole I am on the right track plot-wise. I simply can not go back now, not when there is only 30,000 more words to write. I am so close I can taste it. Substituting words here and there, rewriting the odd sentence or two will only serve to derail my forward progress. I have however, formulated an opinion about these types of shindigs, these critique groups and gatherings of authors but that is a post/rant for another day.

1 comment:

  1. Most writers I talk to agree that you need to finish a novel first then go back and edit. The interesting thing is that by the time you go back to the beginning, you don't have so much of an emotional attachment to each word or phrase and real editing can begin. It's amazing how whole chapters can feel totally irrelevant and finally you can see how this particular description does nothing to the plot or to character development. If you're still worried about losing something you spent hours writing, you don't really have to worry, just paste it somewhere and use it another time or add it back in if you find you actually do need to know more about X. Good luck!