Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Weekend Women's Writing Retreat

This weekend was seriously heavenly! I spent it at Silver Lake with about twenty other brilliant ladies who all had one thing in common- the love of the written word. It was a wonderful experience and almost more than one blog can hold so I think I'll piece meal it, touching on a point each time.

Today I'll just give a taste of the experience and a brief overview of all that I learned. Then I'll get into the nitty gritty later.

After six hours of driving with Julia(goofyj) and Donna and her daughter Mandy, the four of us arrived at a gorgeous cabin right on a picturesque little lake surrounded by mountains and evergreens. You felt like you were living on a postcard.

Right away we met Liz Adair who organized the entire ANWA event. It is so interesting to finally meet someone that you only have an internet relationship with. Her sky blue eyes and sparkling personality were a joy. How grateful I was to be included and considered her friend.

We were one of the first to arrive. I assumed that everyone would know each other but me, yet the truth was many of the people had not met before but something amazing happened. It only took one question, "Tell me about you work in progress" and an automatic connection was made. I heard brillant stories, plot ideas and personal ambitions, most being balanced with motherhood and other responsibilities.

It was invigorating to be around so many women of creation and vitality. I laughed so much that my sides ached and I talked so much I became hoarse. Each night I got to bed far later than I should have not wanting to sleep and miss a single word of the lives, thoughts and future dreams of these fabulous ladies.

There were a number of lessons and writing exercises which I'll review later but I'll end with two great things I learned.

When I left the retreat, I was on a high because the entire weekend was overflowing with such unity, love, sisterhood and support. I mourned a little because in our ward I don't always feel that same connection and I wondered why. Then it hit me. At the retreat we all had a common dream that was important enough for each of us to sacrifice to be there. That dream or goal connected us from the moment we met.

In the church if we could remember our common goal with more clarity, I believe that same unity would fill our hearts and encourage us to naturally reach out more than we do. I am so guilty because I have been very withdrawn since moving into my new ward and I plan on repenting of that immediately.

The truth is I worry alot that I am weird. I love to come to new plateaus of understanding, I love expressing complex ideas, I often open my mouth and look around to see people blankly staring at me not understanding a word I said. I also HATE my body. My thyroid went out a number of years ago and the weight gain is my nemesis.

This weeked I suddenly was in my element. Like the eagle among chickens that can't understand why he craves more, I was able to finally soar to the highest mountain crags and rub shoulders with others of my kind- writers alike.

On the way home my two friends and I (and Mandy) went to the outlet Mall and went shopping together at Dress Barn for Women. It was incredible. Because I wasn't going with my size 7 daughter, I felt totally comfortable as we all tried on the same outfits and laughed at our flaws and complimented our strengths. Going home, I felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a long time.

What a gift this weekend was of friendship, learning and joy. Life is good--- and I haven't even told you about the writing stuff yet.

Thank you again Liz!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Christine! Yes it was awesome - and sooooo much fun. I learned a ton too - I filled Paul's ear for at least an hour after I got home - poor guy. :-)

Oh, and hooray for being wierd - isn't it fun? lol :-) I am of the firm belief though that we are normal, and the rest of the world is weird.

Wendy said...

Christine--It was so wonderful to meet you at the conference, and your presentation helped me so, so much. Plotting has been my biggest hangup so far. Your enthusiasm and excitement are contagious (and hopefully your wisdom will be, too!).

Liz Adair said...

Wow. I wish I could write like you. Great blog. Great conclusions. May I join you in shopping some time?

Monique said...

I wanted to thank you Christine for giving me exactly the tools I needed to get started! I also wanted to mention that now you can make an effort to start spreading that unity to those around you! Thanks again for helping me get off the ground. I'm making a running start!

Tristi Pinkston said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Lara said...

You totally inspire me both personally and literarily :) Thanks for helping me define my goals and being such an encouraging sounding board!