Thursday, 7 July 2011

Reflections on a Writing Retreat

This week I have been on what I've called a writing retreat. My parents were away on holiday and I asked if I could borrow their house. It's located in a relatively quiet suburb and most of the neighbours are approaching retirement age. Bonus points: there was a nice garden I could sit in of an evening with beer. Unfortunately, most of this week has been spent writing indoors, staring out at the pouring rain. I did have to deal with a minor roof leak that saw Him Indoors ascending some wobbly ladders when he came to visit. Poor sod, the first thing I said to him was not "Honey I've missed you!" but "Can you help me fix a leak in the roof?"

Asides from roof leaks, the week has been reasonably productive. My original plan was to create a body of short stories intended for e-publishing. That course has changed a little because I have found a character I would like to slot into a novel. Originally the character started off as a bit player in a short story I'd written. Then I found myself thinking "Actually I'd like to spend more time with this dude." Currently my story is set in New York City and the gay scene in the 1950s. It's a period of history I know little about but I'm going to have fun writing about it. Even as I type one of the characters is shouting in my head (someone has just broken a bottle of very expensive bourbon) as though he's a real person. I'm taking this to be a good sign and not that I might be hearing voices.

Another interesting occurrence: I have been writing plot outlines. This is not a technique I have done before. When I wrote in my teens, I just kept typing at the computer until I ran out of steam. No character profiles, no plot outlines. I would have struggled to physically describe how most of my characters looked, talked or thought about when they weren't appearing in the Word doc. files on my computer. The OU course I completed earlier this year went over the importance of getting to know your characters and planning your writing. I realised it made sense why I ran out of steam when I was writing stories. In a previous writing class, the tutor asked me "Why did you end this story a particular way?" Unfortunately they were not entirely impressed with my answer of "I was bored and wanted to finish it the quickest way possible."

Earlier this week a friend got in touch with me concerning a possible script writing venture. This is all shiny and new so I'm not going to talk about it too much. I have been working on those plans these week when The Novel has been annoying me. Now I have an extra two scenes that I didn't have last week. Same with the The Novel: I have an extra 3, 000 words and a plot outline I didn't have a week ago.

This week has been good. It reminded me that I enjoy writing, that I'm happier when I make time to write. Now I'm determined to keep up this commitment. There's a sign on my living room wall that says If you have time to piss about on the Internet, then you have time to clean! Perhaps I should change "clean" to "write."

On a side note, I told the Mothership I was writing a novel. Her response was "Hmmm.....that's nice." Since she found out there were "naughty" bits, she is demanding advanced copies. 

No comments: