Ghosts, Girls, and Other Things That Make Me Shiver

As I said on Friday, I was at the Hand Hotel in Fairplay, CO for the YA with Altitude writer’s retreat. Talk about a wonderful experience. Not only was our moderator Courtney Koschel fabulous, but she put together a really helpful retreat. Both Sarah Ockler and Heidi R. Kling shared a wealth of information with us. It’s hard to believe but I actually left feeling like I now have an idea of how to write my pitch and query.  And if you’ve ever had to write either of them,  you know just how shiver-worthy that is.

But I know you are really curious about the ghosts of Hand Hotel. I don’t put myself in the “disbeliever” category. Instead, I’m a fan of the “why not?” category. There are folks who think the hotel most definitely is haunted (UFONUT) and others who think such an idea is ludicrous. Me? I left thinking that most likely the hotel had more guests over the weekend than visible.

Now perhaps you think my belief in the Hand Hotel ghosts comes from my fantastic imagination. To some extent you’d be correct. After all, there were no wavering faces in my bathroom mirror aside from my own. But during one of our sessions the swinging doors seemed to open and close in response to what people were saying. Could it have been the wind? Sure. But is it possible that while a group of writers shared the meanings in their novels, unseen folks were inspired to respond? I’m going with yes even though it gives me a wee bit of the shivers.

Another shiver-worthy aspect of the retreat was the presence of a wonderful group of women (and three men!). Saturday night we donned our pjs or otherwise more comfy waistbands, chocolate and wine (for some of us) and we hung out before the fire trading tales and simply enjoying the company of once-strangers who are now more than that.

As a writer, I feel like I wear my heart not simply on my sleeve but in all my words. Sharing those words, the raw and unpolished, is fairly terrifying at times. To let someone read what I write and am unsure of is quite a bit like how it would be for me to climb the ladder to the high dive, hold my breath and then leap off the board. Since I can’t swim, it would be quite a leap of faith. To drag my bedraggled self out of the pool would take more strength for me than for some others. But to stand there shivering and be handed a towel and a smile…it would make it all worth it.

And that was what happened for me over and over during the course of the writer’s retreat. I took risks and other writers supported me.

This morning when my alarm dragged me back to the land of the wakeful, I was both exhausted and energized. My body meekly begged for a few more hours and my brain jumped up waving pom poms, ready to get to work on turning my novel into the novel it can be.

Mister Soandso asked me last night “so how much longer until you are done?” I laughed.

And I am still laughing. Because a writer is never done with their novels. We simply get them to a place where they make us shiver with anticipation instead of fear. Then we send them into the world where they can make others shiver.

A big thank you to Courtney, Sarah, Heidi, Jessi, Ingrid, Anne, Jenny, Amy, Stacie, and Xochilt. You “girls” are delightful. And totally shiver-worthy.

3 thoughts on “Ghosts, Girls, and Other Things That Make Me Shiver

  1. It sounds like you had a really great time. I am both very happy for you and very envious.

    Day-um – I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve been on a trip of any length at all. It’s been even longer since I’ve spent any time at a Haunted Hotel(I highly recommend The Basin Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas)

    Confession: I’ve never been to a writer’s retreat or conference. Yeah I know, it probably shows. 😉

    • This was my first anything writerly. When I sold my short story I set aside that money to do something “writerly” and this was the first thing that either caught my eye or worked with my schedule. The best part? Feeling like I’m part of a community. And that is what probably shows more than anything…that sense of not being alone in this infernal process. 🙂

      I am so blessed to have been able to get away – not with my hubby or for work or for groceries, but for me, me, me.

      Now, little ole me had better get cracking on that dang book. After I make dinner and do a few more loads of laundry of course.

      Thanks for reading John! {hug}

  2. Sounds like a fantastic retreat! There’s nothing like spending time with other writers to really get the creative juices flowing. 🙂

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