Thinking Ahead To Summer

Here in Seattle we’re in the midst of yet another late winter deluge. It’s a great time to be indoors writing, either alone or comfortably anonymous at a local coffee house, but I’m already fantasizing an out-of-town getaway. I’ve spent the fall and winter months at my desk, editing manuscripts and working on my young adult novel. After all this self-imposed seclusion, I’m ready to connect with other writers and editors, learn more about my genre and readers, and brush up on my skills.

If I can afford it, I may enroll in another workshop like the one I attended last year, the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop. I’d been working on a picture book and a middle-grade story, so the focus was perfect. As the workshop took place at one of our favorite coastal towns, Oceanside, Oregon, it doubled as our vacation.

While my partner roamed the Oregon coast taking photos, I sat in a large, airy room overlooking the Pacific Ocean, along with fifty others.  We spent the week in the company of agents, published writers and illustrators, and editors representing publishing companies. We critiqued each other’s writing, had several one-on-one meetings each day with instructors, attended guest lectures on relevant topics, and connected with fellow workshoppers and instructors before and after class.

When I returned to my motel room in the early evening, I had three or four hours to work on my manuscript. There was plenty of time to explore local beaches and restaurants too, so I never forgot I was on vacation. Best of all, I returned home feeling rested and rejuvenated and geared up to keep on writing.

Although I loved that workshop, this year I'm looking around for one that focuses on my current genre: the young-adult novel. I want to find a workshop that meets during the summer months, and it has to be in the Northwest because I’m on a budget. So where to start looking? The Internet, of course.  

A quick Google search led me to a workshop scheduled for the third week of September at Santa Cruz: the Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Novel Workshop and Retreat. This workshop brings together teens and adult writers, editors, and published novelists. It would give me a series of deadlines that make finishing my novel in September seem entirely doable. Considering all it offers, the workshop at Santa Cruz sounds like a winner, though one that would put a sizable dent in my checking account. 

For about half the price of the workshop in Santa Cruz, I can stay here in Seattle, enroll in a couple of writing classes at the Hugo House during the coming months, and sign up for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference (PNWA), scheduled to meet in Seattle at the end of July. If I'm able to complete my manuscript in time to take it along to the convention, it would be worth the price.

In the meantime, I'm going to join one of the writing meetup groups in the area. Writing groups can be helpful in a couple of ways. They motivate writers to keep writing.  They give them the chance to hone their editing skills. They allow them to network with others in the publishing industry. 

So even though it’s still rainy February, I’m already thinking ahead. If I have a game plan for the coming months. I'm less likely to be distracted from my writing when spring starts busting out. So here is my plan in a nutshell:

Step #1: Find a writing group.

Step #2: Sign up for a class that meets in March or April.

Step #3: Make up my mind whether to go to Santa Cruz in September, or to the writers’ convention at the end of July. I have until April to decide.

 Whichever option I choose, I'm more likely to stay on track with my writing goals.

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