Writing Groups, Critiques, Scrivener, and Long Drives

Photo courtesy of Jim Brekke — unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera on the trip.

I’ve had an incredibly enriching weekend for my writing life. On Friday I put my dog in the back of the car and made a 7-hour trek up to my old stomping grounds in Duluth, Minnesota. Along the way, I stopped to visit a friend that I met at writer’s camp when we were both 15, and I received some more valuable feedback for my Rumplestiltskin retelling. I’m excited to put it through another round or revisions this month, and possibly start submitting it this year. I’m particularly interested in submitting this to ebook markets because of its awkward length (it’s neither a short story or a novel at about 28,000 words.) If you know of a market that might be a good fit, I’d love to know about it!

My friend has also just finished her degree in graphic and web design, so we got the opportunity to brainstorm the webpage I want to set up soon for my freelance work.

In Duluth, I met with my speculative fiction writing group in person for the first time in almost a year (one of whom has just started her own blog here). What a treat! There’s so much more laughter when I get to be there in person and can catch everyone’s facial expressions and the nuances in their voices. I submitted the first eight pages of my Rapunzel retelling, and it was eye-opening to have some thoughts other than my own on the piece. It’s always fascinating, and enlightening, to see what other minds and eyes find in the words you’ve written. I’m realizing more and more how complicated this revision is going to be. But I’m still looking forward to it!

Which leads to a few more of my thoughts on using Scrivener for writing. I didn’t like that there wasn’t an easy way for me to export just part of the document to another format (.doc or .rtf), so that to convert just a few pages to submit to the group, I had to either copy and paste them or export more than I needed and then delete everything that wasn’t ready for review. Also, the font conversion was absolutely appalling when I opened it in Windows, with weird spacing issues every time I used an apostrophe. So I’m still on the fence about whether using Scrivener for rewrites is a good fit. (I do think the conversions would have been a little cleaner if I hadn’t already stripped formatting to import the document into Scrivener in the first place.)

HOWEVER, I also used Scrivener for brainstorming and outlining a set of concept albums I’m working on when I had to wait for new tires to be put on my car Friday morning (and thank goodness, because I needed those good tires to get me through Winter Storm Luna on my drive home last night). And I LOVED Scrivener’s features for this part of the creation process. I loved being able to create a notecard for each plot development, with the option to include as much or as little information about the scene as I wanted. And I love how easy it is to move ideas around and resort them as I develop the story around the music I’m using. This isn’t a writing project per se, in that the songs will tell the story and I”m just stringing them together, but it’s still too big for me to hold in my brain. And right now, Scrivener is holding all those details quite nicely, and making this step of the process very easy and energizing rather than overwhelming. Because the initial creation process is always the most daunting to me, Scrivener might be just what I need to get through it with less stress.

While in Duluth, I stayed in a bedroom above a friend’s shop out in the woods. Quiet, private, and the perfect place to read Thomas Merton and journal about my return to the city I love more than any other. And of course, all that driving time isn’t bad for getting the creative juices flowing, either. The hardest part is finding the time to implement them all once I’m back home.