I sit here at my desk with my laptop, trying to speed up the rate at which I can process the wonderful weekend I just had. I need to blog about it, but it’s hard because then I have to admit that it’s over, when really I want it to live on. And perhaps it does, in memory and impact.
I helped organize a writer’s retreat for homeschool authors at a sweet little vacation house I’ve known for years. The owners, dear friends of mine, were thrilled to allow the ten of us young Christian writers to stay for the weekend and have all the writing fellowship we could cram into those not-quite 48 hours.
Surrounded by a beautiful property, complete with a valley vista, a peaceful river, and end-of-season bluebonnets, we had a marvelous time. We grew closer to one another as friends and encouraged each other to use our writing to glorify God. We had morning and evening devotions and discussions; lectures on different aspects of writing; opportunities to work uninterrupted on our WIPs (aka, write-ins) and to read aloud pieces of our stories; and games that word nerds love.
|Photo Credit: V. Kathie Ardnek|
I’m so grateful that God brought each of the young women here. Published and unpublished, with amazing abilities and passion, each unique but sharing many traits and interests. I know the encouragement and refreshing I received will be a long-lasting fuel to my writing, as will the friendships I made and cultivated.
If you’ve never been on a writing retreat with others, I can’t recommend it highly enough! After arriving on Friday afternoon, we played an icebreaker game. Our first writing activity was a write-in. I’ve never participated in one before, and I was a little doubtful that I’d be able to concentrate with others writing in the same room. But I loved it! For an hour, the clickety-clack of typing and the presence of all these writers making progress on their stories spurred me to do the same. It’s beneficial peer pressure.
We finished in time to watch the golden sunset from the cliff over the valley. Then, late into the night, we played a hilarious game called Bring Your Own Book. Each player chooses a book (novels work best) and tries to find punchy quotes that match a particular prompt. Everyone takes turns being the judge for each prompt and selects the person he or she thinks has the best line. It’s become one of my favorite games.
We ended that night and began the next morning with writing-related devotions that I wrote, followed by discussion and singing hymns. We had talented singers in the group. Saturday was a day of sharing knowledge and ideas and reading aloud our projects. I talked about editing; Sarah spoke on knowing your audience and having the courage to reach them with God’s message; Claire answered our medical questions for accuracy in our fiction; Grace gave us a bunch of great tips on writing a series; and Deborah read a superb essay by Stephen Lawhead on being Christian fiction writers.
|The authors’ published books. Photo Credit: V. Kathie Ardnek|
It was enriching and fun to get a taste of everyone’s writing talent as we read aloud and discussed each other’s work. Also on Saturday, we walked down to the river in the valley, played Scattergories, and shared about books that have inspired us. Ending the night and beginning Sunday morning with devotionals and hymns was just what we needed to cap off a meaningful retreat. We went to a restaurant for a farewell breakfast and one by one said goodbye as each departed for home.
Yes, this retreat will have a lasting impact on me. Everyone was so passionate about their writing and using it for God’s glory. I was reminded of why I write. The nature around us infused peace and joy. But the fellowship and encouragement was the best part of all.