I’m in my third day of my own self-designed writer’s retreat, which I’m calling the Beach Writers Retreat. The self-imposed exile from FaceBook has not been 100% successful. It really is an addiction and I’ll have to wean myself of off it slowly. The same goes with email. However, I am getting in the habit of turning off the Wi-Fi and focusing on the writing. Case in point, I’m writing this on MSWord and I’ll post it once I’m back online. So for the moment, I don’t have any distractions from incoming emails, temptations to surf the web, and so on.

One aspect of this retreat that’s been so far successful is getting off the computer by 8:00 pm. That’s when I spend the rest of the evening reading, or knitting and listening to an audiobook (more on that in a future post).

Now because I’m the only writer on this retreat (the Ol’ Man wants no part in this at all) and there isn’t any set agenda of seminars, I’ve developed my own. One of my “seminars” is Writing the Short Story. I’m using as my textbook, Writing the Short Story: A Hands on Program, by Jack M. Bickham.

Wait a sec, but don’t I consider myself a novelist? Well, yes, I do. But, I’m intrigued by the notion of getting a story down in 5,000 words. A while back, I wrote a dreadful first novel that has some sections that are salvageable. They’re too short to turn into a full-fledged novel, but maybe a short story would work. So I’m going to give it a whirl and see how it goes.

The next seminar is on literary theory. My text is Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction. Eagleton is a former professor at Oxford and a Marxist. His book according to a Wikipedia entry is:

Probably his best-known work, traces the history of the study of texts, from the Romantics of the nineteenth century to the postmodernists of the later twentieth century. Eagleton’s thought remains firmly rooted in the Marxist tradition; he has also produced critical work on such more recent modes of thought as structuralism, Lacanian analysis, and deconstruction.

The third seminar and text is How Fiction Works. The text used will be How Fiction Works, by James Wood, the book reviewer for The New Yorker.

The last one is a mish-mash of things such as how to become more adept at finding markets for the short story I plan to write, and more publications for potential freelance articles, how to write a tight query letter and synopsis (something you all know I am dreading like coming down with ebola, okay maybe not so dramatic, let’s say Lyme disease).

And all of this, along with all the writing and revising, should keep me busy through Labor Day.

I’ll keep reporting on my progress and let you know what I’m learning from my seminars. On a different note, stop by Alvah’s Books; I have a brand new review: Alan Furst’s Spies of the Balkans. Terrific summer read!

Off I go to Writing the Short Story!


  • Sounds like an interesting process, it reminds me of a guy who I follow on Twitter who has developed his own MFA program because he is full time stay at home dad and can’t go to school for an MFA. Both of you are looking at your time with purpose and structure. I think that is the key to success. Cheers, Ardee-ann

    • Thanks Ardee-ann. I hope I can get in the habit of doing this year round. In the fall, I’d like to really dig in with some other pedagogical programs. Namely, becoming more literate in Marxist theory and really sharpening my French skills. It’s hard though when you don’t have any encouragement. I tried last year with French and whenever I was trying to get my pronunciation down, the Ol’ Man made fun of me (I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to my accent.).