Thoughts on Writer’s Winter Break

This is where I’m supposed to write you a very long post about everything that happened at Writer’s Winter Break.

The truth is that I’m still processing most of it.

I would say, for starters, that if Catapult and William Morris Endeavor do it again next year — and I am fairly sure they will — you should go. (Understanding that you’ll need to be able to both cover the costs of the retreat and take the time off work, so this advice isn’t applicable to everyone. But if you, like, have the resources/ability and you’re on the fence? Go.)

I got to run into the ocean, which I hadn’t done in… three years? We had dinner at this restaurant by the bay and there was a path down to the beach, and a few of us decided to get up and walk it, and then I took off running — and people told me afterwards that they were impressed by my spontaneity, and then I had to explain that it wasn’t spontaneous at all, I had worn plastic sandals and a white cotton dress so I could do exactly what I’d planned, because I knew the moment was coming and I wanted to run directly into it.

But we can look at that as a metaphor for the writing advice I got during the retreat — which was, essentially, to take advantage of the full abilities of both my head and my heart.

Everyone else before this has just said heart.

I have heard so many times that I need to tone down my intellect and my desire for structure and the secret music and math I tuck into most of my writing even though I know most readers won’t know it’s there.

I have heard so many times that I just need to let go and feel and be messy and all of that.

And I was messy, at that beach dinner. Everything from the knees on down was covered in sand and salt.

But I was able to run into the surf wholeheartedly because I knew there would be a surf for me to run into and dressed for it.

And that’s what I was encouraged to do with my writing. To be as smart and structured and forward-thinking and open-hearted and ambitious and thoughtful as I actually am.

To see the story I want to tell and the way I want to tell it and then to take off running until I hit the waves.

So that’s what I learned, at Writer’s Winter Break.

And yes, I woke up early this morning so I could keep writing. ❤️

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