Blog No. 379
It’s retreat time again and after missing last year, I’m eager to try my hand at some intense all day work again. Also, I’m nervous. My history with the retreats has been a mix of amazing, mediocre, and terrible. Last time (in 2018) I went in with Thinking Machine to edit and found that spending eight hours editing a single project was not within my wheelhouse. The year before, I wrote something (or part of something). It was a time when I was still figuring a lot of things out and I’m pretty sure I was trying to get away with using just a tablet and it wasn’t the most amazing. The first retreat, on the other hand, was when I first finished a story in a day. That story turned out to be Dead Planet, which was my last story in the collection, No Light Tomorrow.
My point is that the retreat seems like time for writing rather than editing. Spending a significant time sitting in front of a computer typing away lends itself to rough and creative first drafts better than detailed and focused revisions. I am expecting to get some editing in, though. With five beta reads due (and time ticking away) I hope to have at least a couple of them in my hands over the weekend. Going over those edits should be a nice break from deep diving into a single project. Sometimes when I burn out on a story, spending a little time on something different yet productive is enough distance for me to then jump back into writing. The issue with the retreat this year is all about what to write.
It’s the same problem I’ve had for the past two weeks. With beta reads out in the wild, I don’t want to get too into another project, but I want to keep working on things. Also, the novel and the mess that I’m anticipating will come with it is scary and I’ve been avoiding it. There are some shorts that I would like to finish (and just about got one done) but I don’t think working on short stories with no specific goal is the best use of my retreat time. I may end up working on one if I find myself not wanting to get back to it in the evening and everyone else is and I feel guilty. (Guilt being as good a motivator as any in these crunch time scenarios). I think the best thing I can do is the novel. I haven’t looked at it since September and I have to go over it before I just jump to where I was and start trying to pick up the loose threads. I should try to get that done before Friday (writing this on Tuesday) but I doubt I’ll have the time.
In anticipation of this retreat (and because I was starting to feel lost in the weeds) I wrote out a list of ongoing, started, or otherwise active projects. It was a weird mix of lots of individual things, but nothing of any real importance or focus. I have a ton that I could do, some things that I should prioritize, and a couple that I’m excited for (at the moment). Really, I should put the novel as the focus for the retreat, use whatever beta reads I get back as buffer work, and maybe wrap up one of those short stories if I start to feel burnt out on the novel. Either way, I hope to be productive. I know that I’ll feel like I could have done more or better (no matter what I accomplish) but in the end, I want to feel like I got my feet back under myself and took some strides down the right path for the middle of the year. I have to get Broadcast Wasteland done (and quickly) but getting a new novel finished (something that’s worthy of shopping around) is the next big priority. Sure, I’m excited for the next novella, but the current one isn’t even out yet.
Here’s to a weekend filled with writing and potentially some relaxing too. Christian did a little write-up for the retreat over on the AWP blog that mentions the people going and the format. Check that out if you’re so inclined. Hopefully I’ll have some good news for next week’s post. See you then.