A Cumulative Effect

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My final week at Imnaha Writers’ Retreat provided the perfect balance of hard-working writers dedicated to their craft and hard-working sunshine trying to coax spring from the rocky soils of the canyon. I had plenty of outside time and physical movement each day, paired with a surprising change in my writing.
That change was an attitude shift toward my manuscript, Personae of War. I’d spent the first few weeks of the retreat revising war short-shorts and full-length stories and I fully intended to continue on that path my final days in the canyon. What happened instead? I heard the voice of two new war flash pieces in my mind’s ear, in addition to two new full-length story starts. The result? Two more flash drafts completed for the manuscript, 1 full-length story started in voice, and 1 full-length story that’s 8 pages and counting. Most importantly, these are stories I can believe in and, given time, could eventually officially be add to the collection.
The surprise, of course, is that I hadn’t written any new war stories since Thanksgiving. I felt determined, in fact, to divorce myself from the subject matter. But as each writer shared new writing for our nightly critiques at the retreat, it started to dawn on me that the weeks of careful, invested listening and critiquing from fellow writers not only bolstered my confidence but also rekindled my faith in project enough to start generating new war stories again. It’s not something I anticipated, but looking back it’s certainly something that seems pleasantly inevitable now.
The internal landscape and experiences of craft, self-doubt, inspiration, and confidence that each writer at a retreat like this experiences runs the full range. Last week, for instance, we had Famous Writer (NY Times notable book, 4 nationally known publications from NY houses, etc.), one Regionally Famous Writer (2 books, 1 more on the way), 1 Locally Famous Writer (1000 books sold in little Wallowa County alone), and then Mary and I. We’re both young, independent, and have made significantly alternative decisions in our lifetimes for both career, love, and life. Mary’s reflections on our week together can be read here.
  • Mary

    YOUNG! BWAHAHA! well, you are. I'm young at heart I guess. Leopard fists all around!

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