Heidi February 10th, 2013
Back in November, I went to my first writers retreat. It was on the coast of Deception Pass and it was wonderful.
During the LDStorymakers Conference I went to last May, I met the president of a writing group for LDS women called American Night Writers Association (ANWA). In a class later that day, I sat next to a woman who happened to run the ANWA Retreat in my area and she told me all about it!
When I got home, I made a point of looking up ANWA and joining a few months later. (At first I thought I needed to join to attend the retreat, but found out later it wasn’t required.) When the retreat came in November, I was very excited. It was taking me a long time to write my novel (i.e., I kept re-writing the same first chapter over and over), so I decided to use a new method of writing I was testing out where I covered the screen and just kept writing without editing.
And that’s what I did.
I found quiet spots at the retreat, covered my screen with folders, put on my headphones and let myself write almost non-stop for two days. And man alive, it was a blast!
Sadly, I decided afterward that that method of writing didn’t suit me and I’m not using any of the 18,805 words I wrote in that word document. But it was still fun and I learned some valuable lessons, so it’s okay.
The biggest highlight of the retreat was meeting these women. They were genuine, kind and talented. And they all loved to write something. It was such a treat to be among them and hope that I belonged. And it was so fun just being with a bunch of girls (a rare commodity at my house!). I dearly wished we could somehow get together every month.
Another highlight of the retreat was entering the Flash Fiction contest. The night before they announced the winners, I had a nightmare that they yelled at me and told me my story stunk. So I was incredibly relieved when I went to breakfast and found out I’d won second place!!!
When they handed out the awards, I jokingly told them about my nightmare and we all had a good laugh. But then they asked us to read our stories outloud. When it was my turn, my whole body shook and my heart tried to pound a hole through my ribs. I said in all seriousness, “If I’d known they were going to ask me to read it outloud, THIS would have been my nightmare!”
Never, in all my writing, had I had the desire to go in front of a group of people and read my work outloud. I’d purposefully avoided those classes and situations both at the conference and the retreat. But there I was. So I took a breath and made the best of it. And when I finished, the feeling in the room was one of total awe. The looks on their faces said it all and by the time I sat back down in my chair, I realized there was a special magic in what I’d just done. And it was pretty cool.