31 May 2013 - 6:10 pm

Novels and Retreats

It’s coming up to that time of year again: time to think about this year’s NaNoWriMo and all the fun stuff we want to do therein. It’s a bit early to be thinking about November, I hear you say? Never, I reply. When you are as ambitious about NaNo events as my co-MLs and I are, it’s never too early. If anything, I think I’ve been leaving things a bit late (I can’t believe it’s almost June already).

The Municipal Liaison sign-up-again forms were released yesterday. I wasted no time in filling it out and confirming that yes, I fully intend to be an ML again. And this year, it looks like I’ll have not only one, but two lovely people working alongside me in the ML role! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for them, and for all the Wrimos who offer their help and support as well. They allow me to go nuts with the stuff I want to do.

The Retreat crew from 2012. It wouldn't have been awesome without them.

The Retreat crew from 2012. It wouldn’t have been awesome without them.

Last year was all about trying out this new ‘Writer’s Retreat’ thing and figuring out how to make it work. This year, we know what questions to ask and what we need, and I think we’re better equipped to make the Retreat even more of a success this time around.

A few months ago (before I started to get sick and had to focus on other things), the three of us MLs went up a mountain in search of a new Retreat venue. We found a truly stunning venue, with exactly the facilities we need and an inspiring milieu for transporting the stories from our heads onto the page. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to hold a Retreat up there.

Can you hear the ‘but’ coming? Because yes, there’s a but. And it is: but the price tag is a problem.

We have to be honest about the audience that we’re catering for here. NaNo crosses so many boundaries – social, economic, age, race, religion, species (well, maybe not species, but you never know who’s an alien these days) – but some things ring true for the majority, particularly for the majority of participants who get involved in events. There are a lot of people with little in the way of disposable income in that majority, for many reasons: they are students, unemployed, on benefits, or have hefty life overheads to deal with. This is just one of the things that we have to keep in mind when formulating a plan for this year’s Retreat.

We want the Retreat to be as open to our Wrimos as possible. This isn’t about being elitist or exclusionist: I want as many people as possible to feel that they can come (even if they don’t necessarily want to). And with all that in mind, we have to try to keep the cost of the Retreat as low as we can.

The mountain is beautiful, but it is pricey. My co-MLs and I have looked around at other similar mountain-bound facilities, and they all seem about the same in terms of cost.

The mountain resorts are not easy to get to, either. Another consideration that we have to keep in mind is that not all of our Wrimos drive; probably less than half. Ease of access is a necessity (or a potential headache for us MLs to sort out, and we don’t really need more of those if we can avoid it).

I really wanted to go up a mountain. But it looks like it’s not going to happen this year.

We have been looking around at many alternatives. The island was a hit last year and I’m quite happy to go back there, so we’ve investigated some options and come up with a venue that might work for us. There were a few glitches with the venue we used last year, and I’m all for trying new places to see if we can improve things, so it’s going to be a bit different.

At least we already know how to get everyone to the island; that’s a problem off our list.

Comparing it with the mountain venue, it’s about half the cost. You can see why we’re leaning towards the island at this point.

Nothing is set in stone just yet. My co-MLs and I are arranging a trip to the island next week to check out the new venue to see if it’s all it’s supposed to be, and maybe poke at some other options while we’re over there. The venues are booking up fast, so we’re going to have to make a decision fairly quickly.

The balls are rolling. The Writer’s Retreat is taking shape.

Curious about this new venue? Well, without giving too much away: it’s right on the beach, has a proper conference room for writing in, and enough accommodation to hold us all. I’ll give more details once we have them nailed down.

And what about other NaNo plans? I’m sure they’ll follow along soon. I’m starting to get my thoughts together and will be comparing them with those of my co-MLs in the near future. There are party bags to fill, write-ins to schedule, write-outs to coordinate, a Kick-off Party to plan… lots to do! Watch us go.

On a more personal note, I’ve also started to think about what I might write for this year’s NaNo challenge. No more trying to blitz through whatever web serial I’m writing at the time (as I’ve done for the past few years); this year, I’m going to do a more traditional (non-rebellious) NaNo and start something new. Will it be a novel? Maybe. Or it could be the start of a new web serial. I have a few irons in the mental fires, and I’m turning them over one by one to see which one is going to be chosen. I’ve started making notes on some of them.

As I shake off this recent bout of sickness, I’m looking forward to the next few months. To planning and preparing, and grabbing up all my lovely Wrimos so they come along for the ride. It’s time to get moving and shake it like I’ve got a purpose.

I can’t wait. How are your NaNo preparations coming?

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  1. Nick says:

    I’ve been chatting with the standing ML for Sydney, who thinks I should step up from the ‘un-official’ co-role I had last November, and officially apply for real this time. We haven’t met up again yet, nor started planning, but I do think this could be a good thing.

    For as long as I’ve been doing it, Sydney’s always felt a bit iffy on the community aspect of NaNo, though our participation rate is still quite high. It’s definitely improved, but every November I do wish I were in a more close-knit region than the one I’m a part of.

    I have a few ideas rolling around with regards to what I might write, but for now they’re only rough plans. There’s a good chance I might try to re-attempt the first timeline of the idea I started last year, as hopefully the tighter focus will lead to something that’s a bit easier to write – and I’m sure potential readers will find it much easier to read.

    June 2nd, 2013 at 11:34 pm

  2. Mel says:

    That sounds great, Nick! I think you’ll do great as an official ML (you’ve had lots of practice in the unofficial role!).

    I have to say: I’m lucky here in Brisbane. The community is welcoming and has a close-knit core. And I love them to bits. 🙂

    The idea of focussing on a single thread in a story for NaNo seems like a good one. Good luck! Hope it works out for you. I still need a solid plot for mine, hmmm.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 8:34 am