, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For the second year in a row, a number of the Super Secret Society of Quirk and Quill (and friends) gathered in the wild Midwest for a fantasy weekend of writing respite.

We came from all over … Austin, Asheville, Boston, New York, the middle of the New Hampshire woods, and, um, Shanghai. Yes, Larissa flew in from Shanghai, looking cheery and fresh per usual.

This year’s group included: Top row — Amy Rose Capetta, Mary Winn Heider, Carol Brendler, Katie Bayerl, Marianna Baer, Varian Johnson; Bottom row — Ginger Johnson, Rachel Wilson, Jen Taylor Schmidt, Larissa Theule, and Rachel Hylton.

So why did we come?

It’s fantastic of course to see old friends.

The concentrated writing time, workshops, and readings by talented colleagues were all delightful. (Saturday night’s readings took place outside — never have you seen more Macs around a firepit.)

Communing with nature was nice.

Even if Varian and Jen don’t like walking in sand …

There’s also something to be said for sleeping in a bunk bed that reminds you of summer camp, swinging on a hammock that reminds you of family vacation, and hanging out in a hot tub that hints of adolescent scandal.

Not that any of us were ever scandalous adolescents of course!

But there is nothing more magical (for a kidslit writer) than waking up to breakfast among friends who want nothing more than to talk about techniques for building magical systems, how theme can guide plot, and how 12 and 13 feel massively different on a girl protagonist.

These are people who get it, who remember your reading from when it was just a rough draft at residency, who understand why you can’t let go of that concept even if you still haven’t zeroed in on a point of view, or a voice, or a plot.

Two of the pieces from last year’s workshops have since sold. All of the pieces from this year inspired me.

I’m not so happy to be home alone with no more writer friends in the next bunk, but I’m happy to be inspired, to be excited to wake up tomorrow and write.

On our last night, we each wrote down a goal or intention for the coming year and tossed it into the fire. It’s a spark that I plan to keep burning.