Writers retreat (or advance)

At the beginning of this month I had the happy experience of participating in the Paris Writers Retreat created and led by Wendy Goldman Rohm. Held September 2-6 in a loft on the Place des Vosges, the "retreat" was more like a charge forward,  an energizing experience, propelling me (and I think all the participants) to work more wisely and enthusiastically on our respective projects.

The experience was valuable for several reasons, including: updated information about how the book business is operating currently, including a frank presentation via Skype by a guest speaker in Los Angeles on optioning books for TV or film production; tips and practical exercises on writing techniques, and recommendations of readings that may serve as models or as sources of ideas to stimulate our own creative imaginations. But beyond all that was something hard to get from on-line forums or self-help books: the synergy of face-to-face contact and interchange, with Wendy Rohm and with the 10 other participating writers.

Wendy is a very experienced freelance magazine writer, book author and agent (as you'll see if you check out her website), so there was a lot to learn from her. She was also closely attentive and constructively critical of the work as we produced it in workshop exercises. And it was also very helpful to engage with the other participants and they developed books completely unlike mine, suggesting other approaches and seeking solutions to some of the same problems of narrative structure, pacing, etc.

Online forums can be great — I have colleagues to share ideas with in LinkedIn and Goodreads, and some close friends and colleagues in our Thoth Books editorial collective. But the face-to-face exchange with an experienced professional, in real time and in a real place, is insurpassable.