Turning Leaves and other lovely things

Just got back from Writescape’s Turning Leaves retreat at Fern Resort. What a gift to spend a weekend with old friends and new, writers all, concentrating on projects and the writer’s craft. I learned valuable lessons in characterization, especially the Sunday morning session with Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker.

Back home, it’s Monday, snow is falling and the carryover from the weekend had me spending it on my work-in-progress. The voices of my characters are  distinct and clear in my head, less so on paper(or the computer screen).

I just started reading Russ King’s Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven. A giant Black Willow at the river’s edge, the black water, dotted with a gaggle of Canada Geese who seem to be practicing take-off and landing this morning while working on their group harmony, ice forming, and in the distance a row of white—seagulls resting on a half-submerged log— turn the view from my kitchen window into a Group of Seven landscape.

I’ve started “pinning” to a few boards on Pinterest, a process I didn’t understand until recently. Several writers I know are using it as a sort of giant white board, pinning portions of their wip or research or clippings, to private boards. I am using one for clippings, but the rest to collect and share books and paintings and photographs that I especially like. http://pinterest.com/virginiawinters.

A true tragedy this: the mayor brought down by his fatal flaw, his apparent inability to understand that the rules apply to him.

Gifts for Writers

To follow on my gifts for… theme, here are some gifts for the writers you know.

1) Self-editing for writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Collins 2nd edition 2004. Great information, exercises and examples for the writer who must edit her own work(and who doesn’t?)

2)Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham. Writers Digest Books 1993 Understand how scenes and sequels interrelate to give structure to your fiction.

3)Writing the Breakout Novel  by Donald Maass. Writers Digest Books 2001 Donald Maass is and agent and author who gives invaluable advice.

4) The entire Write Great Fiction series from Writers Digest Books.

5) A selection of Hype! highliters from Staples for marking up your own work and these books.

6)Scrivener, a writing, organizing programme from Literature and Latte. Easy to use once you get onto it, and a terrific way to organize thoughts, research, drafts, scenes, characters, locations…and so on.

7) An over-sized Sustainable Earth notebook from Staples

8) Pens, lots of them. I use OptiFlow.

9) An eReader, any one, (but I use a KOBO) for taking books with you on vacation, or even storing your own work as pdf files.

!0) Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Pocket Books 2002. Available for that eReader. A biography of the writer as well as his thoughts and guidance on the craft.

11) Last but not least Turning Leaves Writer’s Retreat from Writescape http://writescape.ca/writescape/retreats/next-retreat/

Writers’ Retreat/Turning Leaves

i spent the weekend at a writers’ retreat—Turning Leaves—at the Fern Resort on beautiful Lake Couchiching. Writescape, a joint enterprise of Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Scheltema who produced the event and taught. http://writescape.ca/writescape/

The resort itself is old, turn of the nineteenth century old, but with modern amenities, at least in the section we inhabited. The spacious room assigned to me overlooked the long breakwater out into the lake, and the ducks and geese that lived within the calm waters. It faced west, with glorious sunsets.

I have stayed in resorts that promised a fireplace in every room, only to be disappointed by the ersatz fire with its electrically-produced flames. Not this time. A genuine log-burning fireplace, with supplied artificial(and therefore easily started) logs.

Otherwise—clean, comfortable, spacious. My only quibble concerned the lack of electrical outlets for my various electronic devices. I solved that one by unplugging the clock, substituting my phone. It has a reliable alarm clock!

We met in the same building which provided a boardroom and a spacious living room(yet another fireplace), supplied with coffee, tea, juices, snacks, comfortable chairs and good lighting.

The package included three meals a day which were delicious and generous. My only complaint would be that the distance from the kitchen to our small dining room meant some dishes arrived, not cool but not hot either.

Poet and author Jonathan Bennett filled in at last minute for a scheduled guest speaker Barry Dempster. He spoke on point of view, a subject I find very interesting as was the discussion that followed. He also read some of his own work, including his award-winning poetry and answered questions about the writing life.

What else—free writing time, lots of it; workshops which we could attend, or not; discussions at meal times with other writers; the privilege of talking with Gwynn and Ruth.

Writescape. What a resource for writers.