Retreat to define, describe and discern


I spent the summer solstice of 2012 at a writing retreat at Strawberry Creek Lodge, hosted by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.  In a wee solstice manifesto, I made a commitment to readers to hold nothing back, to share what I find as I write.  One of the things I shared in that post was that I was submitting a proposal for the book to New Society Publishers.  My goal was to have it ready by the end of the retreat, but it was ready to send the first night.  Off it went.

For the fall equinox, I found myself again making my way to Strawberry Creek Lodge.  As my mind meandered on the drive, I realized that I had not yet heard from New Society Publishers about my proposal.  While I was driving, the email response came in: not interested.

I can’t help be curious about the timing of my submission – at summer solstice – and the response – at the fall equinox.  I can’t help be curious too about being at the same place for each of these events, and the exchange between me and New Society Publishers took place the first night of each of my stay’s here.  I haven’t a clue what it means, but I am curious about Earth’s calendar.

So here I am, on another first night at Strawberry Creek Lodge, sorting out what I will do with my time here.  As I retreat from the hustle and bustle of life, I also retreat back into my work to refine and revise it for another round of agent and publisher search.  Here is what I commit to for the next 4 days:

  1. Distill Chapter 1.  I haven’t looked at this for a few months.  Fresh eyes will see fresh things.  I aim for a tighter narrative for the city’s journey, and our journey in and with cities.
  2. Describe my book proposal as a compelling narrative.  I aim to re-examine my proposal to find the book’s narrative.  I need to find the book’s heart.
  3. Discern the Nest City Manifesto.  As I concluded June’s writing retreat, I made a commitment to share with readers a ‘report’ that documents the gist of Nest City’s first part.

I will keep you posted.

Nest City – a slow release


Nest City: the Human Drive to Thrive in Cities is the title of the book I have been working on now for a few years.  I have 100,000 words that now sit in a structure that makes sense. I know where it is going and my ask now is to make it clear and compelling.  I have very purposefully over the last 9 months chosen not to blog very often; it seemed to be a distraction from the writing time I need for the book.

But I have received several signals from the “universe” that it is now time to get the blog back to life with renewed purpose.  It is now time to start taking steps out of my safe little nest where I have been working so feverishly and start putting my writing efforts out into the world.  The signals:

  1. The signal: Agent rejection #1. My first proposal to a literary agent was declined.  This is normal, but it made me rethink the traditional “publishing” trajectory of finding an agent, who finds an editor who wants to publish your work, and so on.  This serial world is at odds with the messy and meshy world that I live in.  Response: Diversify my efforts to find my audience.
  2. Signal: I keep reading about small publishers.  My goal is to put my material out into the world.  Once out there, it will grow if it is meant to grow.  While it would be a thrill for my ego if my writing went viral, the reason I am writing is to find and support people who are working to create cities to be the best habitat they can be for as many people as possible.  Response: Just start small.
  3. Signal: Writing about blogging keeps coming my way.  The Writer’s Guild of Alberta‘s most recent edition of WestWord has an article on blogging. My takeaway: blogging time feeds other writing time.  Response: It is time to blog and put my ideas out there.
  4. Signal: People want to read Nest City.  After one of my sessions at the Manitoba Planning Conference this year, a participant asked me where she could get my book.  I had no answer and no way to connect people to my work.  I am being asked to very explicitly put my work out into the world. I do not need to wait for a book to be published to do this.  Response: It is time to share what I’ve got and invite feedback. 

SO.  I intend to release my work here.  Each Tuesday, in short little pieces, I will release the pent up energy that is vibrating in my whole being.  It will be a slow release…  to feed our capacities to build cities in which we nest and from which we go on great adventures.