Friday, August 20, 2010

Off to Lake Dillon

This is the weekend of my writing group's annual retreat up at Lake Dillon - hooray!

Tonight we'll follow our tradition of discussing the current year's Newbery winner: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, followed by our read-aloud of the Newbery acceptance speech published in Horn Book - we pass my issue of Horn Book around the room, each of us reading aloud a page. Then we'll vote on how this year's Newbery ranks against the last 17 or so that we've read together, beginning with Lois Lowry's The Giver. I haven't shared my view of When You Reach Me with my writing group yet - we try not to discuss it until we all can discuss it together - but let me just say that my hunch is that it will rank pretty high, unlike last year's drumming of The Graveyard Book.

Tomorrow we'll have a glorious daytime critique session in the morning, our only daytime critique all year. I always try to bring something especially significant for the retreat critique. Last year I brought the first chapter of the first book in my proposed chapter book series; this year I'll be getting critique on the entire finished book. And actually, my writing trajectory here is a bit more complicated. I started writing Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters last summer and shared chapters of it with my group throughout the fall, but then set it aside because it just wasn't working. I turned instead to what was supposed to have been book three in the series: Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters. I wrote that book in its entirety, with help from my writing group, and that is the book I sold as the first book in the series to Random House. Then I returned to Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters, now that I understood the characters better. It's the full draft of Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters that I handed out to my group a couple of weeks ago, and on which I'll get their verdict tomorrow. What was to have been the second book, Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters, is now going to be the third book. Confusing! So I have definitely come full cycle on the book to be discussed on the retreat.

For the rest of the weekend we'll walk, read, write, talk, eat, talk, eat. I hope Marie will bring her guitar so we can sing.

It's all going to be wonderful.

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