Hood River Bridge
April 16, 2013
The Breakout Novel Intensive (BONI) is an incredible week. I attended two of these workshops and a Fire in Fiction weekend before joining Free Expressions team as an assistant/minion. Since then, I’ve attended Story Masters, and came back again for another BONI session here in Hood River, Oregon. I’m writing this post from the same hotel on Tuesday night, hanging out with two fellow students who have become good friends. We decided to spend a few extra days before heading back to our normal lives.
Today, after spending a day and a half recovering from the experience (I slept for about eleven hours Sunday night), I find myself a bit anxious for home. I think any attendee can testify to the fact that if the workshop was much longer most, if not all, of the writers that attended might collapse from brain overload. There is simply that much going on in the week, so much learning, that you reach the end exhausted, super excited and overflowing with new ideas. The week might begin with “Oh crap, I have so much work to do,” but by the time the intensive is over it sounds more like “I have so much work to do and I’m so excited!”
This is coupled with a very real letdown. You’ve just left a great group of people, many of them new friends. You’ve had a very structured week, where you can forget about everything else (for the most part) and turn your attention to craft and story. Every meal was filled with conversations about writing and time spent sharing brain space with people who think very much like you do. Laughter over catchphrases like “make it worse” constantly reminded you that if you explore the rabbit hole, your story and your skill as a writer will improve. Every day was totally immersive. You lived and breathed writing and learning, and shared that enthusiasm with not only your thirty-five fellow students, but with very passionate staff members.
And now you have to go back to the real world. Back to families and jobs, in whatever form they take. Back to responsibility! Sometimes we can’t dive directly into revisions when we get home.
But one of the best parts about BONI is that the experience sticks with you. Whenever you throw yourself at the draft, you have notes to explore, lectures to revisit, tools to utilize, and new peers with which to share this crazy journey called writing a novel.
That, to me, is awesome.