Hello all! I'm back from my lovely week away in England. What was intended to be a writing retreat ended up being a revision retreat, since I finished the rough draft before I left (What can I say? I love me a good deadline.), but overall it was an excellent experience.
Of course, it wasn't REALLY a retreat. I didn't shut myself away in a room and work for a week straight. But I did get several really good chunks of uninterrupted revision time in. I almost wish I hadn't been finished with the rough draft, because I'm not nearly as productive as a reviser as I am a writer, and with revisions, it's pretty hard to quantify success. But having the time to really get myself into the right mindset every day was wonderful. Normally I'm just starting to get into the groove when something comes up (generally a wily three year old who would much rather Mommy play with his stuffed octopuses than write). I found the perfect little cafe in Bath and even wound up sitting next to another writer - only he is lucky enough to get to go there every day and work for a few hours. Imagine that.
I had a really great time with my friend Kim, who was there for her own job. I found this was the perfect mix for me, since I got to work during the day and socialize in the evenings. I took the weekend off to meander around London with Kim, and it was really nice to see the city through older and wiser eyes (I hadn't been back since I went to grad school there in 2001). The highlight was probably high tea in the Orangery in Kensington Gardens, although the fish and chips I ate were pretty darn tasty, and Kim and I took some really nice walks in the botanical gardens in Bath. We also saw Billy Elliot, which was a lot of fun.
As far as revisions went, they were somewhat different from my usual process. See, I've never written a novel that takes place in a fantasy world before, and I ended up having to create my own map to make sure my directions were consistent (they weren't, at all). Since I personally have no sense of direction, this was incredibly challenging, but I think I managed it in the end (by literally drawing a map on a piece of paper). I also had notes from my first two CPs, and that really helped a lot. Without them, I think I would have floundered the entire time. The good news is that my CPs didn't have a ton of changes for me to make and both really liked the novel, so I sent the book off to three more beta readers the other day, and now I'll be waiting on pins and needles for their feedback before tucking into another round of revisions. Sadly, this time I won't have the benefit of a cute cafe with a delightful Englishman to pour me a perfect latte, let alone all that uninterrupted writing time.
On the bright side, the wily three year old and his octopuses were very happy to have me back.