Back in New Hampshire and it’s time to buckle down and work toward a new goal I’ve set. At least 15,000 words by June 1st. Currently I’m around 6,700 so this should be realistic considering I’ve got some work and personal travel over the next couple of months. Why the 6/1 deadline? I want to be ready with a decent piece of my opening chapters to take to a writers’ retreat I’ve been invited to attend at the end of June. I received an invitation from one of my online professors to join her and fellow aspiring novelists at a weekend in NH for critiquing, discussion and meeting with her publisher from Simon & Schuster.
Honestly, I don’t know how selective the process was to receive the invitation to apply. The skeptic in me says it was my interest in the retreat and ability to pay the fee (less the lodging, I can commute) that drove my acceptance. The dreamer in me says my professor and her publisher read some of my course work and liked my application answers (below).
My tools are at the ready: notes I’ve jotted down on characters, plot lines, further research needed, my noise cancelling headphones (Jim will be watching March madness in the living room below my writing loft), reference books and my printed list of “words to avoid”.
Writer’s Retreat Application
1) My previous writing experience has been: Just getting started. I completed the Coursera Creative Writing Specialization in February 2018. I used a few of the assignments to draft out ideas for a historical fiction I have begun.
2) I am at the beginning/middle/end of a novel, or still in the idea phase (please say which). At this point, beginning. I am just over 5,000 words into my novel. By late June, I hope to have at least doubled or tripled that count.
3) Currently my biggest obstacle is: Showing, not telling. As a historical fiction, I want to include enough references and background to make the story credible and authentic, without coming across feeling like a history text book.
4) My goals for the Novel Writing Retreat are:
- Feedback from peers and professionals on my style and initial characters’ development.
- Review of my outline for the entire book – will there be interest in the themes and characters I want to craft?
- Offer thoughtful feedback to my peers and be an active participant in all discussions.
5) If I could have written any novel in the world, it would be: Gone with the Wind – a sweeping historical fiction saga with characters you loved, and hated, sometimes at the same time.
6) The moment or period in my life in which I first thought of myself as a writer or artist, or became aware of an urge within to express myself was: I loved creative writing exercises beginning in elementary school. As I entered college, my interests turned to history and psychology, in which I earned my degree. After I had my children, I grew to love children’s literature and the power and importance of reading to and with them. I wrote a story for my sons around the antics of our two golden retrievers. I tried to publish it, but was too busy with two kids and working full-time to pursue it. Now that my sons are grown and flown, I have turned my attention to a passion I never felt I had the time for to pursue with dedication. My grandfather was a published author and I have always felt I had a hidden gene to follow in his footsteps. My novel is loosely based on my grandmother’s life – the wife of the novelist.