It’s time to get out the whiteboard!
I get so excited when it’s time for K. R. Brorman, S. A. Young and I to get together for one of our sadly too infrequent writers’ retreats. It’s not easy for three very busy people, two of whom have large responsibilities to employers or family and family businesses. But there’s an alchemy that takes place when we are together that spurs us on and makes us believe that we really will finish and publish these books.
Just knowing we’re coming up on an SS&S Retreat gets us energized and we start focusing more on our writing so we can make the most of the time we have together that flies by like the wind.
For a week, we are immersed in these fictional worlds with characters that feel like our own family – if not our alter egos. Even though we are continuously working during the intervals on our scenes and chapters, honing our prose and tightening up our characterizations and plots, it’s these times spent together intensively hashing out the stories – from the minutiae of scene descriptions to the larger matters of sub-plots, that result in quantum leaps of progress.
We’ve gotten pretty good at this. We have a routine, we’ve settled on my place in the mountains as the best venue – we can spread out, everyone has their own space and we have large work spaces that we can just turnover to the process. We can work outdoors when the weather is nice. There is great food, there are cocktails. There are puppies.
Yeah, that won’t be distracting at all. We have tiaras. We have swag. The views are decent…
There are times we take a break, get out of our activeweah, brush our hair and teeth, put on a little makeup and head into town for some food that someone else prepares and serves to us, maybe enjoy a little culture. This time we are set to spend an evening at a performance by the Harlem Quartet. This should be inspiring!1
We part at the end of the week exhausted, sleep deprived and probably a bit hung over, but freshly inspired to make another major push, to get the stories right and get them finished.
More than five years ago we started this process. We’ve worked together online, met as often as possible for retreats that have progressively gotten longer, but also more productive. We have had times where we despaired that we could move forward or that we could really do this – three people co-writing three significant books is not an easy process2. Through everything, we have stayed the best of friends, supporting and encouraging each other through good times and awful. We have stayed committed to this work and to each other.
If you don’t see blog posts from us for a few days, forgive us and know that we are putting the time to good use. Hopefully, we’ll have something to share with you here when we recover!
1 For those of you who have followed us closely these past years, you may have noticed that our novels are based in New York City.
2 Has it ever been done? We’ve seen books where three (and more) writers take a section and write the story sequentially, but we, in our naïveté, decided on an approach that would be difficult, in my estimation, for far more experienced writers – that is, each of us is the lead author for one of the first three books in the series, but the other two write/co-write significant parts of the whole. All three of us have MFCs and MMCs that all have roles to play in each book, and we have a responsibility to them to make sure their characterizations are the way each of us has envisioned. We toss dialogue back and forth, making sure our characters’ voices are they way each of us hears them in our head, just as an example. We think they appreciate it.