One Small Step: Winter Workshop 2019

It’s been a week since I came home from the OYAN Winter Workshop, a workshop for older students who have taken the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. It was a wonderful week filled with God moments, joy, and memories. This year’s theme was One Small Step.

 

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“When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.” Alan Shepherd

 

Memory #1 My Critique Group

Guys, I had a fabulous critique group this year with some pretty amazing stories, from a Snow White retelling to werewolves (don’t let that scare you). Every day had us laughing, wiping tears from our eyes and screaming “no” at the top of our lungs. There are pretty amazing writers in the OYAN community and the future of literature looks promising. 😊

My own work has improved in that I was able to deceive them, give them feels, and sink their ship. I feel immensely happy — my writing has improved to be able to lead readers astray down dark forest paths. ** cue evil laughter**

Memory #2 Being with Young Adult Writers

Writing as a young adult is hard with so many responsibilities. At the Winter Workshop, there are other young adult writers in the same boat. There, we come together in solidarity, talk about our stories, and even do some brainstorming.  A bonus at this Winter Workshop was we had an hour of undisturbed writing every day, and it was so nice to be able to get back into my story world.

Memory #3 Sour Patch Kids and Tea

One of my lovely friends brought sour patch kids and tea for us during our writing sessions and it was literally the best thing ever. #writerfuel

 

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Memory #4 The Snow

On the 31st, we had a snow fall.  One minute we were quietly writing, till someone said it was snowing. Then doors were thrown open and we stood outside in the snow, wet, cold, and laughing. This southern girl was happy.

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Memory #5 Friends

This Winter Workshop, I was able to grow closer to old friends, and make some new ones. Friends are precious things. They are there to help you through a rough time, talk with you, lift you up. After going years with not having any, I treasure those that I have made through OYAN.

 

Memory #6 Lack of Sleep

The latest I ever made it was 2:00. Who can go to bed when there is so much to talk about? Tribbles. Star Wars. Star Trek. Home states. Very badly written fan fiction that has you holding your sides aching with laughter. There is no shortage of laughter at the Winter Workshop.

               

Memory #7 My Mentor Session with Stephanie Morrill

I knew I shouldn’t have been terrified, I know Stephanie.

But I was. 

Anytime someone reads my writing I break out in hives. But it was honestly the best 30 minutes ever. She loved my story, and I was able to brainstorm that dreaded ending with her.

 

rebecca's winter workshop 2019 pictures 504Selfie with Stephanie Morrill after many failed attempts.

Memory #8 The Sessions

Not only does Winter Workshop have adventures with friends, but it also has some amazing sessions.

Mr. S talked about story beats, great questions of genre, and who’s telling your story. Jenn Bailey spoke on worldbuilding and magic systems. And Stephanie Morrill taught us about all the little things. I love to color code my notes but it’s very hard when you’re furiously scribbling down all the things.  So many notes.

Memory #9 God Mourns with us, and Wants Us to Invite Him into Our Mourning.

Mrs. S, a member of the OYAN and our beloved matriarch spoke on this. Never have I ever thought of God in this way. 2018 was a year of loss for me.  Of health. Joy. Friendships. And while I knew God was there, and there was a reason for all of this, it never resonated with me that He would be in the same room with me, mourning with me. This may be the lesson that I take and hold the most through 2019.

2019 is a new year. A year of new opportunities. New people to meet. And new challenges. But this year I’m going to take it on one small step at a time. With God. With my friends. My family.

And the new year doesn’t seem so challenging from that point of view.

 

Rebecca Morgan

Why I’m Excited to Be Going to a Writing Conference

We’ve all stumbled across The List. The List of what every writer needs to do to succeed. Generally, at the top of the list is “attend a writing conference.”

Pffttt. Yeah. Writing conferences’ cost hundreds of dollars, and that’s a lot of money to dish out for just a few days. Yes, it is a lot of money, but a penny saved here and there is a penny earned. I’ve gone so far as to sell possessions to earn money for one. 

Okay, money aside. Unless you’re fortunate, writing conferences are also hundreds of miles away. Are they really worth it, Rebecca? 

For me, yes it is, and this summer will be my fifth OYAN conference, and I’m going to give you a couple of reasons why I’m excited.

Knowledge

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

So. Much. Knowledge.

**Brain Explodes**

Back in 2016 (my first conference) I thought I knew what made a story a story, Sure I didn’t know everything, but I had the gist of it all, right? I was wrong. So wrong.

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(I’m pretty sure I had carpel tunnel syndrome at the end from all the notes I took.)

When I went home, I was eager to put what I learned into my writing and it’s been the same ever since. I’m looking forward to what I learn this year, because I’m always looking to hone my craft. Writing is like life – you’re never not learning and growing.

Doors Open at Writing Conferences

You never know when a door will open at a writing conference. I pitched my novel idea to Steve Laube at the OYAN conference last year (I almost fainted from sheer terror) and while he liked the idea, I basically needed to shred my novel and start all over.

Cries.

But we talked about it.

We talked about what I could change.

How I could make it better.

He never promised anything and nothing may come of that conversation — something that I understand fully well. But his encouragement was everything – and still is.

Friends

Being a writer can often be a lonely trade. It’s just you in your Hobbit Hole with your laptop pounding away at the keys at all hours of the night or day. No one really understands you (except your characters and they aren’t even real).

Lo and behold, the writing conference, with quirky fun people just like you who dress up in costumes in the summer heat, have light saber battles, and late night talks.

I have no idea what we talked about, I only know we were tired and giddy. 

And having writing friends who also understand you, can also uplift you when you need it most.

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There is no explanation for this. Just go with it.

Authors

I GET TO SEE NADINE AGAIN!

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With Nadine Brandes!

Somehow, I only get a picture with her at the Winter Workshops. **epic fail** This year though I must get a picture with her in my Ravenclaw costume. *Ravenclaw’s unite*

And John Otte. John Otte is amazing too, his sense of humor is hilarious and his cosplay style spot on. 

It is maybe slightly terrifying to speak in the presence of a published author. It may feel like this:

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Okay, Maybe that’s extreme. But, they’re published. They’ve done it and you may feel like you’re choking on  your own aspirations. But if you talk with them, you’ll learn they had struggles, trials, and bumps in the road.

John Otte had an interesting story he told in 2016 that I don’t remember the details to, but his journey to publication wasn’t a walk in the park.

These authors don’t care about your age – they encourage you and uplift you to chase your dreams and pursue them.

Mr. and Mrs. S

Definitely one of the highlights of the OYAN workshop is seeing Mr. and Mrs. S. The amount of work and love they pour into the workshop and us is overwhelming and encouraging. **gives them apple butter and throws glitter and confetti.

Mrs. S’s morning sessions are the highlight of the day, and Mr. S’s haunted golf cart rides the gem of the night. There is no documented proof these rides exist, but they do.

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Jesus

For me, OYAN is also a time to slow down. Writing conferences are all rush, rush sometimes and it does fly by. But for me it’s also a chance to stop and rest. It’s when I see Jesus even more in the simple journey of Frodo. When the small random acts of kindness make this dark world seem more bearable.

It’s when I can I take a breath and say, “yes, we can change the course of the future.”

So, is a writing conference worth the money, packing, planning,  and panicking? Yes, it is. And that is why I’m so excited to be back at home in Olathe in just nine days. And hopefully I will tell you all I learned soon.

write on, rebecca

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