I apologize for my quiet–I’ve been traveling and awash in manuscripts. I haven’t even watched the last three weeks of Project Runway, which should tell you how bad things have gotten.

But I’m sitting in a beautiful little cabin right now in rural Pennsylvania on the campus of the Highlights Foundation. The foundation is devoted to helping children’s book writers hone their craft, and they offer a ton of intensive workshops. I’m here for the very first Whole Novel Workshop in Fantasy–8 participants who each get an intensive critique on a novel manuscript, then we spend the week workshopping and meeting and critiquing some more. One of the participants has a description of the week here. My co-leader and I are not always so sticky-looking.
I can’t describe how invaluable this sort of thing is, not just for the writing, but the soul. Of course there’re the long drawn-out mornings in which to write (or, in my case, blog and catch up on the 700 things I’m behind on.) And the workshops, and the intensive manuscript critique, and the opportunity to think and talk in depth about revision. But it’s also the sense of community, sitting around the table and realizing you’re with a group of kindred spirits. I think writers need to work hard to find these chances, to remember that they are not alone, that just as we need the quiet mornings we also need the chance to be with our fellows and talk about matters related and un-. We’re all in this together.