What Did I Learn at Writing Camp

Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp
Writers and editors gather at week’s end in 2018. (Photo credit: Amy McNeil)

I attended for the third time Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat in May, 2018. Though I had been to the bookcamp portion two previous times, this year I chose the writing retreat. The retreat allowed me to write at my own pace, personalize my goals, and carve out informal one-on-one time with writers and instructors. I could change up my schedule as opportunities presented themselves, sign up for sessions that interested me, and, if I finally gathered up the nerve, practice pitching my story to one of the visiting editors.
My six-day odyssey let me talk to others as much as to myself, think on my own, and possibly conjure up a dream or two about my story’s characters. What was Abbie up to this time?


Craggy Garden of moss and ferns.
A craggy garden of moss and ferns where paranormal elements might be imagined at Cedar Valley-West Bend. (Photo credit: Chris Eirschele)

Through a dinner time conversation when I was asked about The Breaths and then later sitting in on a session entitled “World Building,” I realized I had a lot more work to do on The Breaths characters. From the beginning, I had devised a profile sheet for each of them. But clearly, my profiles for The Breaths had not gone deep enough; there were gaps in their world. Without me realizing it, The Breaths had morphed into a greater role for themselves in solving my new mystery than what I had created for them in any of my earlier first-story reiterations.
I was onto the second story. The Breaths needed rules.
The genre for my story remains “cozy mystery with paranormal elements.” The Breaths traverse between their world over the Rainbow Bridge and the world of modern day somewhere in Wisconsin, albeit in a greenhouse.” Though, it still had not gone so far as to be a fantasy.
After all, Mr. Potter had given The Breaths responsibility for his place. But then, GlenAnne Flannery moved in firmly planting her two human feet.
Networking is primal to me. I need the interactions at gatherings like bookcamp to store conversations for those lonelier times back home when it’s only me and my computer, my dog and cat, and the garden.
This time, I met many writers new to bookcamp, I recognized the first-time jitters I had felt a few years ago: the surprise on their faces as critics offered feedback on each query in the Slush Pile or, in the middle of a conversation, a realization washing over someone’s face at how much more there was to learn about writing fiction. This writing life throws us curves.
No worries. The Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat will be back next May. I enjoy the serenity, people, and always the location, location, location to rejuvenate my mind and soul.
In my beloved Wisconsin, each time I attend bookcamp I am able to add to my store of knowledge.

As I build on this writing life.

Spring in May in Wisconsin
May is spring in Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee, trees are blooming and birds sing every morning. (Photo credit: Chris Eirschele)




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *