Rebecca T Dickson offered a Summer Writing Camp for adults. Together with Ranee Dillon, they led a small troupe of people serious about writing toward a finish line.
Their advice was simple and wise. They kept yanking us out of the middle of the road where we hindered the flow of writing like an idiot dancing naked in traffic.
What they offered was a community of equally determined people a chance to air our fears and see that we each face the same obstacles, that the answer is to #JUSTWRITE, and to be there for us any time we needed help getting unstuck.
As a private group on Facebook, we campers made each other laugh and hoisted one another up in celebration of every achievement. We understood that the small and huge leaps forward are necessary to write a novel and reveled in each one. We were silly and fed off each other's humor, making every day as fun as Summer Camp could be. Each person's triumph inspired the rest to keep moving forward, to not get bogged down in edits, and to believe in our own voice.
We were fighting our own battles but no writer was left behind. We each had to solve our own problems but at times it was simply being in a community of understanding, supportive people that released inspiration like fairy dust. I had a major AH HA moment in a one-on-one with Becky where she spent most of the time listening. During a group session, I heard peoples' voices hit the EUREKA pitch as they solved their own dilemmas just by listening to other people share their concerns.
Writing communities are a beatiful thing. It sounds so easy but a great experience really is a magial combination of determination, willingness, and trust. I highly recommend Becky and Ranee to authors at every level of writing. Is it your first novel? Welcome! Time to get dirty. Your sixth novel? So what, I know you're still second guessing yourself. We all get in our way. We all have fear. And no matter what, we often need someone to herd our cat like brains. Could Becky and Ranee be those shepherds? I don't know. Only you can answer that question.
What I can tell you is that I entered this camp with an idea that I knew I could write in a month. Just doing it was my problem. And now I've done it. Is it a perfect first draft? Excuse me while I laugh my ass off. It's a bloody first draft--filled with dangling moments, skips like a jumpy record player, and a few scenes that capture my voice. Never disregard the importance of the first draft.
I had tears in my eyes this morning as I drove to work. My next novel is as good as I could hope. True, I have a ton of work ahead of me as I even out the flow, shore up the arcs, and develop the characters, but this draft is everything I dreamed it could be. I'm more excited about its potential than when I started.
So I thank Becky and Ranee for yanking me out of my way. And I thank myself for signing up. August will offer you a chance to Write Raw. Don't look at your budget. Don't ask permission. If you want this kind of help focusing, leap out and grab it. Give yourself this opportunity.
And now I want to shout out to some special writers I think are worth watching out for and few you can read asap:
Clare Davidson - a mum and a writer who just released Reapers Rhythm. I've bought it!
Kath Baron - a quiet sponge. I'm as curious as anyone to discover what she writes behind closed doors. Don't play poker with this one.
Kim Williams - a fiesty lady taking chances and prisoners. I adore her sense of humor and look forward to reading her first novel.
Andrew Berrigan - a dedicated detail-ist who is sculpting his novel. I sense a Hitchhiker's Guide to Dr. Who but know it will be totally different. My curiosity is piqued!
Ranee Dillon - while working with each of us, she still managed to finalize her own manuscript. Now that's awesome. "Dorky moment of the day: I looked down at the fully complete copy of Ring Binder and broke out into tears. Like major weeping tears. Then I felt kinda sick to my stomach. #facepalm" SEE! They totally understand!
Becky Dickson - Chains, whips; chips, dips. There were moments I saw her as Lisa from Weird Science. Her Definitive Guide is about to be offered to all. It's a writing essential. I can't say it more emphatically. This is a must for all writers.
And then there's little ol' me
Ellen Harger, author of Strong Enough
Go here and grab my New Adult tale of chances and friendship that delves into the emotional rollercoaster of an unexpected pregnancy. You'll recognize you, your friends, and feel the music that keeps everyone balanced. Take a look back (or forward to) your late twenties with an empathetic smile knowing you're not the only one who had to be strong enough.