A Boyds Mills Evening

The air hung like a soggy blanket above Boyds Mills today, so saturated I had to hop in a cool shower the minute I returned to my cabin from my afternoon walk. There are only two cabins filled now; the writers I’ve been working with all week have headed home, heads spinning with the new techniques they’ve learned for shaping their stories. Across the narrow strip of grass outside my window, the young couple now in Cabin 21 prepares for their upcoming wedding. I’ve become an interloper in someone else’s tale.

It’s interesting how we enter one another’s stories, how we weave in and out, sometimes on threads thin as spider’s silk and sometimes on thick hemp ropes, the kind that hold fishing boats tight against docks. This week I wove in and out of the stories of a retired pastor from Seattle, a fourth grade teacher from Santa Barbara, an editorial director for Scholastic book clubs, and a Chicago cop–to mention just a few. I feel as if I’ve met a really interesting bunch of characters–the kinds I’d like to read about someday in a book. They’re now a part of my story, as I’m a part of theirs.

As I settle in for the night, I’d like to share a few quotes from the week with you.

What does it take to make it in children’s publishing?
talent, timing, luck, resilience (Lindsay Barrett George)

How many words should a middle grade novel be?
As many as it takes to tell the story. (Kim Griswell)

Where would you keep chickens if you lived in a tiny Brooklyn apartment?
On the fire escape. (Laurie Wallmark)

How important are cover letters?
“Well, we’ve never published one.” (Kent L. Brown, Jr.)

From my cabin at Boyds Mills, good night and keep writing!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds like a wonderful retreat. Will they/you be doing it again next year?

    I love the quotes about the chickens, and also the coverletters.


  2. kimgriswell says:

    We do this one every year. I don’t know for sure if I’ll be part of the faculty for it yet, though. We had a lot of laughs this week, as well as getting a ton of work done!


  3. Melissa Starr says:

    Have you noticed how creativity seems to spike in those cabins at Boyds Mills? I’ve tried to figure it out, and this is my theory: The delicious company of other creatives over highly intelligent meals (food ingeniously designed to delight) serves as a catalyst for a chemical reaction inside the brain that prompts an overflow of new ideas.

    Reading your blog posts has the same effect. I love your writing.


    1. kimgriswell says:

      Thanks, Melissa! And welcome to my writing “peeps” blog! I think you’re right about those cabins and the workshops that take place at Boyds Mills. I also think that a big part of it is gifting yourself with writing time in a place where you have none of the usual responsibilities of life. It’s the Boyds Mills version of “a room of your own”. It also amazes me that we can bring home new energy that will inform our writing for months to come!


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