A Writing Retreat

This past weekend I was at a writing retreat at Ragdale in Lake Forest, IL. It was my first one so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s also been a long time since I’ve traveled alone, so fortunately Lake Forest was only about 30 miles away. Going on this retreat by myself was huge for me.

We spent much of the time in group sessions, though there was plenty of time for individual writing. The groups were made up of craft talks, some workshopping, and reading our work out loud. Meals were provided, so we ate together. The people I met were great (there were 12 of us), and the instructor, Abby Geni, was awesome. At the end of each session, she sent us away with prompts that we could work on (or not!).

This retreat was through Story Studio Chicago, from where I take a lot of classes, mostly online since they offer that. There are a few more retreats later this year, so check them out!

Here are pictures of my room. I had my own screened-in porch! I wish I had taken pictures of the grounds because it was beautiful.

Depression and Writing

I’ve been in a depressive episode since the beginning of February. Normally when this happens, I quit writing. This time I haven’t. I haven’t been as productive as I was pre-depression, but I am still writing.

My psychiatrist has exhausted most of the different medication options. Some work for a while then stop. Others don’t work at all. I’ve had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) quite a bit in the past. Like some medications, it didn’t last long. And I won’t do it again because it (along with having bipolar, some medications, and age) messed up my memory.

So he suggested ketamine infusion. He had mentioned it once before, but I didn’t look into it because insurance doesn’t cover it. Anyway, it is as it sounds: the doctor administers ketamine via IV. This may be used as a street drug, but when used properly it can improve depression symptoms right away. Insurance still doesn’t cover it, but I’m desperate.

I’m Still Here

So I haven’t posted anything in over two months. Well, I had major surgery in mid-December and needed a six- to eight-week recovery period, though I felt better long before then. Still. Precautions. And fortunately, I don’t have cancer.

I didn’t do much writing after NaNoWriMo, and then the surgery came up. I was also accepted into StoryStudioChicago’s Novel-in-a -Year program (NIAY), which started in January. It’s a one-year course that meets monthly and offers support to a small number of novel writers. And, of course, workshop is a part of that.

I decided that I would continue writing once the class started so I could get some direction, set goals, etc, And I have. I’ve written every day so far this month. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule to make the time to write, so I’m not reading as much as I would like. Also not crocheting as much. Both are basically my hobbies. That’s it, unless eating counts as a hobby.

As I continue to write my novel, I’ll try to give more updates on how it’s going.

Thanks for sticking around.

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Post-NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) came to an end on November 30. I started out strong, writing 2,021 words on the first day. To write 50,000 words in 30 days means writing about 1,667 words a day.

I hit my stride early, occasionally writing over 1,667 words. But I peaked early, and after that, I faltered and fizzled out. The total number of words I wrote for my novel is 23,927. I wrote a whole bunch of other words in my outline, but I didn’t think they counted. At one point, I changed my word count goal to 25,000, but I never made it.

I may not be an official “winner,” but I got a lot out of this. I learned that I have the ability to crack down and write and write and write. It didn’t matter if I wrote the scenes out of order, as long as they were written.

What tripped me up is my penchant for editing even before I write more of the story. I want to read and re-read the first chapter, and edit it along the way. When I was stuck, I wanted to re-read the new scenes I had written because I knew they needed revising. And revising was better than staring at a blank screen. But I didn’t think that would count towards my word count.

I did end up writing a lot more of my novel than before NaNoWriMo. I maybe doubled the overall word count. So the whole endeavor was satisfying.

NaNoWriMo 2021 Check-In

NaNoWriMo is now halfway over. In order to have 50,000 words on November 30; my current total should be 25,000 words, at 1,667 words a day. My current word count should be 25,000. My actual count is 17,XXX, which means I need to write 2,167 words each day for the next 15 days.

I started out keeping up with the word count. I had a short list of scenes that I wanted to write, and came up with a few more. It’s my habit, and probably not a good one, but I constantly edit as I go, which holds up the work.

Will I make it? Doubtful. I told myself that I’m doing this to get in the habit of writing every day, which I’m doing. On your profile page, there are a variety of badges you can earn whenever you reach a milestone, and I’ve hit every one so far. But I was really hoping to get the winner’s badge!