“For this weekend, you get to call yourselves writers loud and proud instead of in a small voice at the end of a long list of other things you do.”
My writing teacher Lois Brandt said this (or something very like it) at the beginning of our Weekend on the Water retreat with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Lois wasn’t lying. All weekend long, I talked and heard about books. I talked about my books in progress, I heard from debut authors, and I listened to the faculty tell of how to write as well as what they as editors and reviewers look for when they read. I chatted with my group about their writing and heard what they had to say about mine.
It was glorious.
Sometimes, I learned, it’s good to be stuck. Sometimes it makes me stop, look at what I’m doing, open my eyes and ears, and hear something new. Sometimes the stuck let me hear old things in a new way.
Gradually, I felt the cement blocks on my creative feet and fingers lifting.
When I got home I found a contest to submit to and the deadline is soon. After that I have my short story who sits so close to my heart I have to crack her open and send her out as soon as I can find a possible home.
And my middle grade novel. This weekend I felt my character wake up inside me as I listened to another writer give me story idea after idea from his own experiences with characters like mine.
Here is what I learned in my two full days at a former convent in Des Moines, Washington:
We do not create alone.
Even as I sit at this keyboard, far away from everyone I met this weekend and from any of you reading, I feel all of them and you with me.
It’s crazy sappy, yet I have to say it because it’s truer than true.
May you find joy in the people who love life like you do.
And do remember the anonymous quote Kim Baker told us as we went our separate ways:
“You are a ghost driving a skeleton made of stardust on a rock flying around the sun. Fear nothing.”