Monday, October 31, 2016

The Writers Retreat That Saved Me

In September, through the good word of a writer friend, Michelle Wilson, I joined ANWA (American Night Writers Association). In so doing, the following month was their annual Pacific Northwest Region's Writers Retreat. I came at a stellar time, right? I signed up, paid my dues, and had butterflies. This being my first writer anything with several authors/writers.
But, upon the nerves was the expectation you get as the new kid in class. And that's exactly what happened on my first day there.

I sat alone, reading, waiting for the keynote speaker. But registration was for 2hrs, and I showed up on time. What was I thinking? Luckily, charming author, Leah Berry, introduced herself and we got to chatting. Then as she was called away, dead air again. Awhile after, I spotted Michelle Wilson, chatting just for a few before the keynote speaker was announced. Alas, let's get started!!


That crappy part, those initial minutes gone by speaking to no one while others caught up on seeing each other from prior years or whatever, really stuck out to me. Or when I fumbled over what my novel was about when asked, ate at me. I KNOW the story inside and out, so where was my head?? I felt like a dunce and a wannabe. Sure I can blame nerves, but those nerves are my own, so it's all coming from ME!

I went home (I live 10mins from the retreat, so I opted to commute rather than stay over night) with not only a pounding headache, but heartache. Even though we had a fun game getting to know others before the first day was over, I didn't want to come back.

I did NOT want to come back, and I didn't NOT want to be a writer anymore. I was over it. I can't explain why I was so hormonal about it. But I was, doing the whole screw everyone and screw this, I've had it! pity party. What was wrong with me?? In a few hours, years and years of writing was over?? REALLY??

Yes! That's how lowly I felt about being a writer!

The next morning, I drudged out of bed, got dressed unwillingly, and forced myself to go back. I even was late because of said force, walking in during the non-fiction panel questioning, and took a seat. Slowly, I started to feel myself be a writer again. I went to several workshops, thinking I wouldn't have the mentality to learn, but they proved me wrong. And I welcomed it. I also welcomed the new friendships I was making as well.
No other time after that first night, was I left alone, and it was so heartwarming. So heartwarming! The next day, we had our final keynote speech. Jordan McCollum did an amazing keynote speech each day, but her final one had me in tears. 

She said the adversary will put thoughts in our head to not use our God given talents, like writing. She said it happened to her when deciding if writing was the right path, and recognized it wasn't God telling her to stop writing, but Satan. I never thought all those moments I doubted my abilities/decisions could be from him. ALL THOSE MOMENTS for years! Including...the first day of the retreat.

Now I know it was Satan that didn't want me to go back, putting fear, self-doubt, and ineptness all over and in me. I was literally planning on staying home that day, but decided to go because I paid for it. And boy did I ever! I regained my confidence as a writer, made new friends, and learned tricks of the trade.

The writers retreat saved me as a writer. And I'm forever thankful for it.


Books read: Cold Betrayal by J.A. Jance (Detective work into unlocking a cruel polygamous family), I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around by Ann Wertz Garvin (therapist loses self in family dynamics, triangle love, and a new job), The Beautiful Balance by Michelle Wilson (finding your balance through God's lessons) ***** stars to each!
Reading: Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison, The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan, and Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall:
Movies I watched: Alice Through The Looking Glass (not a lot of good reviews, but I LOVED it!!) and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (I laughed NON-STOP)
What I'm doing tonight: eating all the candy my kids get trick or treating. (duh!!)

Questions to the Reader:
1. Have you ever been to a writer's retreat?
2. Do you often feel your talent shouldn't be used, too?
3. Promise never to give up??? (I'll hunt you down if you say no)

Love your guts,