Thursday, July 03, 2008

Writer's Retreat Round-Up

One of my sisters flew into town this week. As a result, I've been spending more time out of the house than in. In terms of writers, this means less butt in chair time, and even less time to post. Quick impressions re the Words in the Woods retreat:

1. Camp Cantrall is a kick-butt location to hold a retreat. Nestled in the woods Northwest of Springfield, Illinois, the facility is far enough from the hustle and hum of the city that hundreds of stars were visible in the night sky, and the only way to find a reliable cell phone signal was to hike into the field outside the retreat center.

2. A small sampling of lessons learned during the weekend:

* SCBWIers are a very talented group of writers and critiquers.
* Honor the process. A fair portion of the published writers in attendance studied the craft for years before winning their first contract.
* Remain stalwart and true to your characters, story and style.
* One story. Three readers. Three different opinions. Happens a lot in the industry. How this translates for the aspiring writer: don't give up. If your piece comes back "rejected" and you honestly believe it's "ready" for publication, send it out again. Someone will buy it or see enough spark in your writing to ask for revisions.
* A request for revisions isn't a rejection. It's a very good thing. It means you have hooked an editor long enough to interest him/her in your story.
* Each editor brings his or his own baggage to a piece of work, which in turn will affect his/her opinion of the piece.
* One editor's opinion is one editor's opinion.
* Never leave home (or sit butt in chair) without patience and peseverance tucked into your writer's toolbelt.
* Don't expect your first draft to win you a contract. This rarely ever happens. Only in the subsequent drafts will your true story be discovered, and even then your story may not be ready for submission.
* Don't burn bridges by sending your story to editors before it's ready.
* Don't give your story to the choir (family and friends) before mailing it to editors. Find people you trust--readers who know the craft, the genre and the industry--to give you an honest opinion.
* The process from interest on an editor's part to revisions to contract to publication is often years-long.
* When an editor asks for revisions, do them, but don't expect to be paid. No money changes hand until after the revisions are accepted, the editor wins approval from the Powers that Be and a contract is signed.
* Find a critique group and keep it close. Your writing buddies will be the ones to pick you up and dust you off when you and/or your characters take a tumble.

More later after our schedule settles down.

No comments: