Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back from Breck

Two days back from my writers retreat in Breckenridge. Sigh. I miss having three gourmet meals a day magically appear, and I miss having someone guard my writing time as if it were incredibly important, shushing the other writers who have gotten chatty.

I miss looking out my window at Slope 8.

I miss being surrounded by other writers -- what a rare treat that was.

I do not, however, miss the altitude.

And truth be told, I have slept exquisitely well back in my own bed, in my own house, and am glad to be back around my miscellaneous family members and Colorado Springs pals. You can only run away from your life for so long.

But, incredible amounts of work got done, by me, and I would hazard by the other participants as well. I have been fielding email after email filled with good news -- so and so wants to read my entire manuscript! I solved the plot problem with my project! Time well spent, indeed.

My proposal will finally be completely done by the end of this week, based on incredible input and feedback I received while on retreat, and am happy to say it will go out to some agents who have requested it shortly thereafter.

I am fortunate to have been able to go on this retreat -- as I mentioned in previous posts, thanks are due and hereby proferred (again). But the takeaway lesson for me is always to find some way to retreat whenever possible -- whether by finding a coffee shop away from your regular routine, or by holing up in your home office wherever it might be, in order to truly shut out the world and concentrate on your work, your art, your story. Whatever it takes.

It doesn't need to be Breckenridge to be a retreat. All it takes is your determination to get away for a brief time and make progress.

I'm going to try hard to remember this and to do it...I challenge you to do so as well.

The Final Snippet: "Sometimes you shouldn't touch the buffalo." (no explanation)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A while back, I wrote about change, and how even while it can be painful, it is ultimately a good thing.

So, I guess it's a good thing that I changed my plans?

Yeah. It is.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend a few more days at the amazing retreat where I have gotten so much work done in the last week or so. For this, I owe thanks upon thanks, upon thanks. Seriously. If there is such a thing as a karmic debt, which I doubt (and for which suggestion I will likely be lectured at for hours by a particular person who knows who he is), then I owe BIG.

However, this opportunity comes with a small price -- I've had to say goodbye to the writers and agents and editors with whom I have bonded over the last week, and prepare myself to find something in common with a whole new group.

I found what that thing is, or things -- we are people, and we all write, and we all love words.

And I must say, this new crew strikes me as quite cool and fun and interesting. They showed up with tequila, which, really, is the hallmark of all really cool people....Patron Silver to be precise.

And so, while it may continue to be a word party, a party of word slingers all slinging words, with tequila tossed in, I only see myself embracing this latest change, after welcoming it with open arms.

And for some of my compatriots who have gone back to their lives, I say this:

Naked Hot Tub Guy: Get some swim trunks
Ms. Gale: Yes, we do quite like our new arrival a lot, and on your scale he gets the elusive compound: sex and popcorn
Girl Robin: Even a low maintenance hairstyle is a hairstyle and I can't wait to live according to your theory
Ms. Randall: Your found poetry is only slightly less exquisite than your written poetry
House Hemmingway: Thanks for the pliers
Mr. Hoffman: Yes I will bear your math-genius children...SET!
Ms. Fairbank: limericks are always appropriate, as are gnomes
Ms. I Can Make Anything Sound Like Sex poetess: never have herbs been so...appealing
Ms. Musician: keep reading out loud and keep writing your heart.

And I remain: Deb, in the Kitchen, with the giant Potato Masher.

Wonder what impression the next crew will leave?

The final snippet: "Oh, my. I think I need rubber gloves for this..." (don't ask. Really. I won't tell anyway.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reaching Lofty Heights

The great thing about a writing retreat taking place at 10,000 feet above sea level is that it is extremely conducive to getting actual work done. Mostly because no one can breathe after taking a flight of stairs at the altitude (no one = me), and therefore are physically encouraged to find a nice quiet spot and bond with their computers, manuscripts or journals.

So, much work is getting done. By me.

I wondered before I came on this retreat if it wouldn't after all end up more like a really literate party than a working vacation thing, but have been really impressed at how much real work seems to be getting done by everyone. Lots of nooks and crannies here at the lodge for folks to hide away in. Still, plenty of socializing with like-minded folks is taking place, and what a treat that is. Whatever your 'thing' is in life, do not underestimate the power of like-minded groups -- to feel as if you have known people forever, whom you've actually just met, is amazing.

Plus, where else in life would one find a group of people who are familiar with the entire canon of Stephen King, and can discuss his short stories in depth?

I am a fortunate person indeed, to be in this place, at this moment, and at this point in my writing, and can only see good things coming from this time. Thank you's are owed, and are hereby proferred (and if you are an intended recipient, you already know who you are and how grateful I am).

I try to write every day, for at least a little while, and here, I have been putting in large chunks of writing time. When this interlude is done, I think I will find my small bits of writing will come easier, and I will, instead of looking for ways to avoid writing, renew my efforts to expand the time I can spend on it. Not because my committment is renewed -- but because I will feel a sense of loss at not doing it. It is addictive, with an almost physical response, seeing so many words flow so easily from myself when some days writing a grocery list can feel like pulling my own teeth.

Recently, I said to a friend, a self described word nerd, that while he likes playing with words (as do I), I like making them work as well. And right this minute, as I write this entry here, I know the joy of making the words work.

The final snippet: "All compliments shall henceforth be accompanied by a side of slaw." (From Matt, and also for Matt.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mountains and Writers and Snow...Oh My.

What do you get when you mix one mountain lodge, one gourmet cook, 16 writers and a hot tub?
A damn good time.

Also, you get intellectual, literary talk, wonderful personal narrative, any number of quirks to use as grist for the mill, and time to write. And encouragement to write. And an expectation that you WILL write, or be frowned upon for not using your time wisely. A bit like first grade, that, but the mere idea of disappointing one's fellow writers who are busy pecking away at their laptops, or scribbling away in their notebooks, is enough, if nothing else is, to make one (e.g., me) sit and get massive amounts of work done in spurts and chunks.

Very happy-making, this.

But then, it IS a writing retreat, and therefore, getting the heavy lifting-type writing done while I am here is part of the joy and the chore of what is really a working vacation.

And so, I shall report that another full revision of the non-fiction proposal will be complete this morning, and will be reviewed by the two on-site agents, from whom I expect a ton 0f insight and wisdom, but also, truthfully, I expect to have to do at least one more revision before the damned plaguing thing is actually done.

And until I get that feedback, I will work on the chapters that go with the proposal, and at the end of this jaunt, expect to have a submittable package. Have been pecking away at this thing for several weeks again, but have really been able to dig in the last few days.

Life...that thing that gets in the way when you should be writing.

For now, I am savoring the view (slope 8 at Breck), the sunshine filtering through the cold morning, the wonderful memory of going in the hot tub last night in 30 degree weather and getting lost in the universe of stars in the dark night sky. And I am glad for friends and fellow writers and creativity that feasts upon itself only to spawn more and better creativity.

And in a moment I will get more coffee, and smile and commune, and get back to it.

The Final Snippet: "I think I accidentally braised the chicken." (no explanation)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Author Extravaganza...and Me!

Am filling in for a colleague who is ill, and teaching two sessions at Author Extravaganza this Saturday in Castle Rock (Used to be called "The Castle Rock Writers Conference).

At 12:40, "Playing Spider: Enticing Your Web Audience," which will focus on the use of internet technology in a variety of forms as it can assist authors in promoting themselves...


At some point later in the day, time unknown, a teen-focused session "See It, Twist It, Write It," on finding inspiration for compelling fiction all around us. for more information on the conference

Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Overheards

"These boots were made for...kicking someone in the eye."

Yeah, there's a story behind it and probably it's not even funny unless you have the context, but I can't share it. Sigh. Suffice it to say that I broke my own eavesdropping rules to get the story -- I had to ask. And it doesn't suck.

"So, is your mother still a felon? Just curious..."

I have no idea, but there has to be a good story to go with this....

"It bothers me when you cry."
"Oh yeah? It bothers me when"

From an amazing and emotional poem read at Kinfolks in Manitou Springs, CO, on Friday, October 2.

I am officially on sabbatical and trying hard to devote as much time and attention as I can to getting my book completely done. Proposal edits are made. First two chapters will be revised and ready by the end of today. Have about three weeks of work to shape up what I have already done and finish the remainder.

Wish me luck.

The final snippet: "No, a stripper letting you buy her dinner does NOT count as dating..." (from Texts From Last Night, an amazing, vulgar, super-addictive website which you should under NO CIRCUMSTANCES visit. None. I'm serious -- I'll tell your mother if you do.)