|Mis diez papitas|
I wasn't going to attend our blog retreat at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN. My father had diedthe previous month and I thought I'd missed the retreat. But as soon as I heard otherwise, I began to plan.
I'd met Stephanie, Lauren, and Edie. Even though Mark lives in Whidbey Island, where I teach for the Northwest Literary Arts MFA, I'd never met him. I felt I knew Christy because she illustrated a Juan Bobo book for Felix Pitre. My grandsons love David's books, so I felt I knew him, too. The other papitas I didn't know as well. Meeting them tempted me to take the trip. I wasn't disappointed. What a warm and talented group!
I could go on and on praising the group and telling about the fun moments we had together, but my intention here is to tell what happened when we were not socializing.
I've been for years trying to write a middle grade novel. Actually, I've written multiple terrible drafts. I knew that, if I could write a satisfying first chapter, the rest would follow smoothly. But despite the silence in my house, the first chapters had too many characters, told too much, lacked action, didn't entice the reader to keep on reading. That was the project to take to the blog retreat.
There are inspiring writing vibes at the Anderson Center. We all wrote and wrote and wrote. We wrote all morning every morning. We wrote all afternoon every afternoon. On Saturday, the ten papitas got together to share what we'd written. As I read my chapter, I glanced to see the reaction of my listeners. I knew then that I got it! I came home and finished another draft of the novel. A draft, all right, because I know an editor would ask for changes here and there. But this is the first time I am satisfied with a draft. I even added Doña Estafanía (Stephanie), Doña Laura (Lauren), and little David to a scene that talks about things they said at the critique.
For this I thank not just the papitas but the Anderson Center for their inspiration.