If you check the calendar you’ll see it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Why? Life, with all its ups and downs; writing life, with all its ups and downs. I needed a kick-start, and I found it in a place I know all too well.
Loss of a Constant Presence
In March, I lost a family member. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. It was devastating. For weeks I honestly didn’t want to look forward, but I had a book coming out in April. I had to get it together. I did, though not very well. I drifted through the book launch in a fog of grief and didn’t feel much like writing or editing.
Not that this person was central to my life. He was a constant presence, one you expected to be there for a good, long time. It made me look at my own mortality. Usually, I do that without fear, but because of this I faced the fact there are fewer years before me than behind me, not helpful when you have things you want to do, books you need to finish.
So, I needed a way out of this funk, and soon, and that came in a confirmation email from Hollins University.
This year marks the seventh time I’ve attended the Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. It’s now the Tinker Mountain Writers Workshops and Retreats. More on that in a bit. I even counted last year, when I became ill from mold in one of the dorms and had to leave early.
A different dorm this year, and all went well. In fact it was perfect. I renewed acquaintances with old friends from Tinker Mountain and made new writing friends. That alone is worth the trip.
For the past two years, I’ve been so focused on getting novels ready for publication, I’ve put aside short fiction, and this year at Tinker Mountain I remembered why I love to read and write short fiction.
I’d selected a “retreat” this year, a difference from the usual critique workshops where you bring already written work in for the workshop participants and the instructors to comment on. This retreat was to be “generative,” meaning we’d get a prompt one day, go back to the dorm and write a scene or a story or simply a narrative, come to the meeting room the next day, and read it aloud.
Yeah, you heard that. Read aloud a rough draft. WTAF?
The prompts were based on short stories the instructor had us read overnight, and therein came the longing to start writing short fiction again. The short stories were amazing, and I remembered the satisfaction of telling a complete story in so few words. The plots of my novels are dizzy in their complexity; I use spreadsheets to keep them straight in my own head. I’d forgotten how to use fewer words.
To Be Continued…
Over the next few days, I’ll post more about how this year’s retreat at Tinker Mountain went. I’m just happy right now to have blogged.