Finding My Inner Author: My Experience at a Tom Bird Retreat –A Novel is Born
The soft, snow white cottonwood blossoms juxtapose the jagged edges of the painted rock behind them. Shimmering in the morning sun, the flowers seem to laugh as if sharing in a joke. I breathe in the freshness of the mountain air and continue across the street to indulge myself in a cup of my favorite tea and a scone.
I’ve found my second wind! Today I will begin the novel I have carried in my heart for these past four years. I walk slowly back to the meeting room, feeling fully within myself in a way I can’t remember feeling before. Past the medicine wheel, through the pool area, into the meeting room…I am ready.
I can’t type fast enough. It is as if the entire story is mapped visually in my head, impatiently waiting for translation into written text. Not wanting to stop, but needing to eat, I reluctantly close my manuscript. It is lunchtime.
Now, being on a budget (and knowing nothing of the area) I brought a small suitcase of food; I’ve been living off of bananas, trail mix and miso bowls. Today I feel so good I think I will splurge. Reds, the hotel restaurant, has been creating enticing buffets for the group each day. Today I will join them!
Today’s menu is…miso.
For those of you planning to attend on of Tom’s retreats in Sedona let me assure you that you will be within walking distance to anything you might need. The Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa feels like one of those fancy resorts tucked away in the foothills with it’s gorgeous views, walking paths and open courtyards yet it is literally across the street from a Safeway, a Staples and a Walgreens—all the comforts of home! (Yes, there is a Starbucks in the Safeway.)
We mingle before the next session; lowering our boundaries, forming friendships. Interspersed throughout the day are rounds of applause for those who are finishing their books, the clapping also fueling the hope inside of us. Often where there is joy there is also tragedy; one of the participants loses her entire manuscript. The resident techy tries in vain to retrieve it from her hard drive. Our writing time ends far too soon, for tonight is query night!
Tom spends the day reading query letters and offering advice. By the end of the day each of us possesses a Tom-approved query letter. Several of us also posses sick–feeling tummies. I am nervous of my reputation with the professional community, knowing that agents do not appreciate queries for unfinished work. Others struggle with fear of rejection and apprehension at the follow-through. Drinks again are ordered—it is a query party!
Tom offers us the easiest way possible to send our queries. He has a database of agents and a mail system already in place. Copy and paste your letter, click on fiction or non-fiction, see your list of 195 agents you will be contacting and hit “send”. Done. The relief around the room is palpable, we have just graduated ourselves from hobbyist to author. Our books are real. Tom says we should begin receiving replies by tomorrow.
Come with me on my journey to find my inner author at Tom Bird’s Write your Book in 5 Days Retreat at the beautiful Sedona Rouge Hotel. Previous post can be accessed here. Preparing for the retreat: First Post, Second Post, Third Post. Arrival in Sedona. Class Has Begun. Finding My Novel.
Through April 7th you may download a free copy of Tom's Book You Were Born to Publish from his Free page.