As I hang on the edge of another writing retreat, I consider my expectations. This week, I will attend the SCBWI Writing Retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains, near Lake Arrowhead. Last year was our first in-person event since the pandemic. Last year was all about being in the presence of other writers, allowing their creative energy to infuse with mine.
I wonder what will happen this year.
Since the retreat is built around critique groups and writing time, I know I’ll spend a lot of time working on my book. My story has already been shaped by my other critique group, so I will need to concentrate on final revisions.
After attending this retreat for many years, I know the true magic happens when you’re eating breakfast and talking to the agent or editor at your table. Insight flashes between writers when we’re toasting at happy hour. The opportunity to have a fifteen-minute coaching session with a publishing professional is priceless.
In the first years I attended, I would drive up to mountains holding my breath. This would be my big break. I would meet the agent of my dreams. She or he would email me a contract when I got home. My writing career would be officially launched.
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My finished book projects needed more than properly placed commas. My plots needed more emotional depth. My endings needed to be more satisfying.
Years later, I will drive up the mountain with more realistic expectations. But my heart will still beat wildly when I arrive at the cabins. I will warmly greet our guest agents and editors. I will enjoy the company of my writer friends. I will take a deep breath of cool, pine-scented air.
Anything could happen.