Last night, I returned to Stockholm after several days in Matera, Italy. I supposed you could say I was on vacation, but it was more of a working vacation. Why? I was there for intense brainstorming sessions with eleven other authors. Every year for the last 3-4 years, I’ve made it a priority to attend the Brainstorming at the Spa at the Locanda di San Martino in Matera’s Sassi district. Liz Jennings organizes it and we’re all grateful to her for coming up with this idea and always making it happen. I know it’s saved many writing projects I’d started, set aside and then got lost on the way back to them. The group is encouraging, inspiring and their turbo-charged questions always get the synapses working again.
It feels weird to be back.
When you’ve grown used to being in the company of writers and having great discussions about everything under the sun while enjoying good food and wine, returning to the real world of the 9 to 5, the morning commute on cold, grey days and waiting for projects to be approved can seem so…uninspiring. At least I’ve got my plan worked out–I’ll be working on the upcoming chapters for the next installment of Maybe Tonight. I’ll also be finishing the plot outline for Maybe Tomorrow (the follow-up to Maybe Baby that focuses on Laney’s cousin Eddy and what happens when she gets her own Danish surprise). I brainstormed Maybe Tonight and Maybe Tomorrow with my Matera Brainstormers, and they helped me work out some plot kinks. Other things in the pipeline? A novella set in Hunters Grove, the fictional town in Vermont that is the setting for Snowbound.
If you’re also a writer, and you feel lost, I urge you to find your community of writers and try to organize brainstorming sessions. You don’t have to travel all the way to Italy to do it (though it is a nice bonus). You could always do what my writing buddy, Kim Kane, and I do: butt-to-chair sessions at least twice a month when you agree to meet, talk about writing and actually do some writing. Sometimes it takes someone else to figure out what’s wonky with your writing.
Thank you, ladies, for another wonderful spring in Matera. And thank you for keeping me on track with my writing!