Monday, February 25, 2008

The Difference Between A Writer's Retreat and Disneyland

Both are fun and both are better when attended with friends but there is one major difference:

Apparently, most writers run on caffeine so there was an ample supply of coffee at every venue (unlike Disneyland). God bless juiced up writers.

Yes, I finally got to go to the writer's retreat at Asilomar in Monterey this weekend. It rocked. The retreat center is right on the beach with different "houses" complete with Julia Morgan designs, wood paneling and fireplaces.

The weather on Friday was okay, but by Saturday, the rain was pelting, the wind was blowing and the sea was roiling - perfect weather for sitting up half the night talking to Cassandra, Linda Joy, Meg, Pam and all the rest of the amazing writers who came for the weekend.
Paul Fleischman was there and he gave a wonderful talk about using your childhood (and lots of clippings from the newspaper) for story ideas. I've found a new way to get my kids to behave. "If you don't XX right now, I'm not bringing you a signed copy of Weslandia!"

If you ever get to hear Patricia Polacco speak, don't go without an ample supply of kleenex or nice soft sleeves. Sniff. She had the whole room laughing and crying at the same time. She walked us through this book:

...and when she was done toying with our emotions, she says "So, would you guys like to see the actual quilt?" Um, yeah. She brought it out from a little bag and showed it to everyone in the room. It was like seeing the Shroud of Turin - you could have heard a pin drop.

David Schwartz gave a talk that made math exciting (still not sure how he did that) and uber agent Andrea Brown gave it to us straight about thinking commercially when we're writing our books. Patricia got up after her and said, "Now, I like that woman. She knows what she's talking about."

Except for the whole lack of sleep thing (for which I blame Cassandra entirely), it was a perfect weekend. I'm already on board for next year.

On this date: In 1964, Cassius Clay knocked out Sonny Liston.


Disco Mermaids said...

I'm soooo glad to hear you were able to get a weekend away to focus on writing. And not sleeping. So give us details! Did they give you writing time? Did you have critique groups or was it just presentations? And the was the food!!??


cynjay said...

They did give us writing time, but I'm afraid I talked it away. I'm so starved for writerly comradarie that I'd talk anyone's ear off anytime.

There were critique groups, but I didn't do them. I have my mahvalous crit people so I did other stuff. My roomate and I talked until after 1am - glad that there was apparently nobody next door because the walls were paper thin. It was only when we heard THEM talking at 5:45 in the morning that we realized how wrong we were. We sort of slinked around after that.

As for the food - I never met a dessert I didn't like. And did I mention there was coffee?