Notes from the writing retreat (2023 edition)

I spent this weekend revising a novel. When I get to a certain stage in a manuscript, I really like to edit it all at once, without stopping at various points to deal with other responsibilities. I have a “room of my own” (aka a home office) at my house, as Virginia Woolf advised, but life still seems to find me there. So on Friday night, I drove to the Wilbur hotel in Lititz, PA. I stayed until Monday morning.

Having two full days to immerse myself in editing felt fantastic. I made it through the entire 52,000 word manuscript and did some serious work (like I managed to cut an entire chapter and redistribute key plot points elsewhere — and it was very clear to me that the chapter needed to go. I love feeling that clarity!). Because I was editing all at once, I could see that I was repeating some musings from earlier at a different point. I kept notes of proper names so I could make sure I was staying consistent.

And Lititz itself provided ambiance. Much of the story is set in a fictional place called Winston, Indiana, but it is a small town and Lititz is a very cute small town and it helped me picture what certain things might be like. I ate at a few nice restaurants (though I was trying to have stuff for lunch and snacks in the room so I wouldn’t have to leave at inopportune points!). I admired some historic architecture as I took my occasional breaks to walk around.

I am pretty much at my happiest in life when I am deep in a manuscript and I’m working on it and I can see I’m making it better. I love playing around with words and finding the best way to convey things and describe things. I try to create this flow state sometimes in my normal work days but it is always going to be limited. Being in that state for a few days allowed me to really enter my characters’ world. I find it to be an interesting place! Hopefully others will too.

In other news: On Friday my daughter successfully got her ears pierced. The lady who did the piercing was very calm and reassuring and we got some very cute blue flower shaped studs. So I feel like we survived that rite of passage.

10 thoughts on “Notes from the writing retreat (2023 edition)

  1. I love getting into a flow state. It rarely happens with youngish kids and a lot of distractions, but it is pure joy for me when I manage it.

    And congrats to Ruth! What an exciting adventure!! My 12-year old has LOVED having her ears pierced.

  2. Hi Laura,
    I am delighted – and impressed – that you got through so much in your revision weekend. I hope you don’t mind me commenting on something else here also. I listened to your Before Breakfast podcast this morning, as usual, and I was particularly struck by today’s topic: How routines are like a rose garden. I found it such a beautiful analogy.
    I was widowed last year at the age of 51 (my lovely husband was just 54) and I have had to move house and I am trying to develop new routines and habits to fit my current circumstances. My late husband knew that I love roses (my wedding bouquet was roses) and often bought me beautiful bunches just because it was a Tuesday or because he knew I would love the colour of them. One of our friends left a beautiful potted rose bush at the front door for me on Friday and I put it in the little garden round the back and was looking out at the bright roses as I listened to your message this morning. It was such a beautiful analogy – and such a wonderful encouragement at the start of a new week to think of our routines as being worthwhile, with the potential to blossom into something fragrant and beautiful.
    Many thanks for all you do to remind us to make the most of our time.
    Love from Ireland. xx

    1. @Anne – thank you so much for this comment! I’m so glad that the episode resonated with you. I’m sorry for your loss and I wish you strength for creating new and beautiful routines.

  3. How long did they say she needed to keep them in before she could change? My daughter got hers pierced in March, we went back this week (4 months later) and they were like, “Well, 6 months is really best…”
    Gawd, I’m pretty sure it was like 4 weeks in the ’80s??!!

    1. @Marika – six months is a long time! We were told a few weeks (I think like 6-8?) she needed to leave the first ones in. She just has to keep spraying the alcohol spray for longer.

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