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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#IWSG: Retreat From Harsh Reality


It's the first Wednesday and time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, whose mission is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts: Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris!




Every spring, the Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America hosts an annual event—the Retreat From Harsh Reality. The retreat started as a weekend “pajama party” in a dorm at Western Michigan University back in 1985. Over the years it’s changed somewhat. For starters, a nicer venue—no bringing your own towels and bedding. This year was our second at Bay Pointe Inn, a lovely lakeside hotel with restaurant and conference room.

One thing hasn’t changed. The retreat is not a conference. No rushing from one workshop to another. We have one speaker, an author. No agents or editors. Not that we don’t appreciate the last two, but they would change the dynamics of the relaxed atmosphere. It’s a jeans and T-shirt kind of weekend. Someone’s husband suggested pajama pants to save time dressing. We could, since the only males were the wait staff.

Our schedule (yes, we do have one) allows for plenty of down time. Time to chat with chapter members we only see at retreat. Our members come from all over Michigan—Traverse City to Midland to St. Joseph to Detroit (even though the Detroit area has their own chapter). We have time to pick each other’s brains, as I did Betty Meyette about putting my books up in audio format. We have time to write and a quiet place to do so. Or we can take a nap, again as I did, and let all that we heard from our speaker percolate.

For all the wonderful getting reacquainted time as well as meeting new people, the best part is our speaker. This year, the hilarious, photojournalist and NYT best-selling author Christie Craig came from Texas to entertain, educate, and motivate (her words). And, wow, did she ever. She set the tone on Friday night and right away we knew she was going to be fun and why she calls herself a storyteller. With one story after another, Christie had us laughing until our sides ached. On Saturday morning, she told me exactly what was wrong with my WIP. How did she know??? I’ve been writing and going to retreats and conferences since 1993. Still, I always learn something new. I’ve never had such an “ah ha!” moment as I did last Saturday. My roommate, who has been writing longer than me, said she had several “ah ha” moments.

I always come home from retreat raring to get back to my WIP. Even better that now I know what’s wrong with it. If you ever want a relaxed weekend for writers, come to Mid-Michigan RWA’s Retreat From Harsh Reality next spring. You’ll have fun.


Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today.

65 comments:

  1. Glad you had a great time, Diane. Just to leave the world behind for a short period of time and focus on oneself and writing sounds like bliss. Have a wonderful and productive May.

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    1. After the great weekend, I'm sure to have a productive May. Thanks, Nicola.

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  2. I think it's very important to take some time away. Getting caught up in the business side and marketing side of writing can really block you from those ah-ha moments.

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    1. James, you are so right. I know we have to work on the biz side & marketing but, sheesh, writing is where the fun is.

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  3. Great! Good to hear you were able to regenerate and experience those A Ha moments that get you back on the track.

    Shalom,
    Patricia @ http://www.patgarciaandeverythingmustchange.com/2016/05/the-second-milestone-iwsg-article-may-4.html

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    1. We need those down times to regenerate. Always glad to hear from you, Pat.

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  4. Your description of the retreat was spot on, Diane. I came home with loads of helpful information,lots of great writing tips plus wonderful memories.

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    1. Memories are the best, Loralee. So glad you got lots of info and tips.

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  5. Your description of the retreat was spot on, Diane. I came home with loads of helpful information,lots of great writing tips plus wonderful memories.

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  6. A writing retreat is now on my list of things to do. Thanks for sharing yours. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Anna, I hope your retreat is as beneficial as mine. Best wishes.

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  7. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Just the idea of getting away and relaxing with other writers is lovely. It's great that you're recharged and ready to go. I need to look into the audio book option, too. I've had a couple of people ask me if my book is available on audio. I've put it on my to-do list. Good luck with your revising!

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    1. Thanks, Lori. Actually, my daughter-in-law inspired me to think about audio. She listens to books on her long drive to & from work.

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  8. Sounds like an amazing time. Retreats always have a way of re-energizing and getting me back into writing.

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    1. Me, too, Ula. Have fun at your next one.

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  9. This sounds like so much fun, Diane! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've never been to a writing conference or event although I've been to many literacy conferences for teachers. I really must try this. Your comments about pjs made me laugh and reminded me of a parent teacher conference I once had. The mother told me that she loved pajama days at school because her son could just roll out of bed and go to school. I, on the other hand, hated pajama day as a teacher (for obvious reasons!). Have fun writing in May!

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    1. My grandkids love pj day at school. Probably for the same reason. LOL If you get a chance, I hope you can go to a writers' retreat. Conferences are great, too. But I like the smaller retreat (we had about 35) since you can talk to each other.

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  10. Glad you had such a great time and are now feeling so invigorated. Sounds like the perfect retreat!

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  11. This sounds fantastic! I wish writing retreats were more of a thing here in the UK, but sadly, I don't think they are. If I had the money, I'd go on one in a heartbeat. Glad to hear you're raring to get back into writing :)!

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    1. Thanks, Julie. If you have a few writer friends, get them together for a weekend to write. That's what one of our members did last fall because she wanted to recreate the camaraderie plus the writing time.

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  12. That sounds like a great opportunity to be with like-minded people and have the space and time to really connect with them.

    Cheers - Ellen

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    1. You nailed it, Ellen. Super weekend.

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  13. Our local chapter of RWA has a retreat at a bed and breakfast every year but I've never gone. It's always at the end of the college semester and for 12 years, I've had a child finishing up that weekend. Maybe next year. You make it sound great.

    Susan Says

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    1. Susan, I hope you can go. It's amazing. But family comes 1st.

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  14. Been there, loved it, and also returned home ready to write. Glad you had that aha moment.

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    1. Thanks, Maris. You & Margo opened my eyes to an interesting topic. Why do I keep writing? So glad you got over the "dumps."

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  15. Retreats are lovely! I'm having one with my critique group up in Estes Park next month. Lots of writing time, and then evening is free time (though I may sneak out for a hike or walk during the day, too--I'll be up in the mountains!) I'm glad you had such a wonderful experience at yours.

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    1. Shannon, I envy you the mountains. What a view. I hope you have a great time.

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  16. What fun! I have the lovely experience of a long week-end retreat with Jane Yolen. Many a-ha moments!

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  17. that sounds like fun! good for you and thanks for sharing the experience :-) I think all retreats should be like that! :P

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    1. I think we need a combination of talks and time to digest the inspiration. This year we did.

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  18. That ah-ha moment made the whole weekend worthwhile.
    I've never been on a retreat. Wonder if someone does them for speculative fiction writers?

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    1. It definitely did, Alex. If you can't find a retreat, why not start one? It's not like you have anything else to do. LOL Thanks again for starting this group.

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  19. Oh my gosh, sounds heavenly! And, Christi is wonderful!!! So glad she gave you an aha moment!

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    1. Thanks, Alicia. Christie is great. She had us in stitches.

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  20. I have like 6 or 7 books in print yet have been unable to write for a long time. I feel like such a fake!

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    1. Linda, I think we all go thru dry periods and wonder if we're really writers. I hope you'll start writing just for fun. Not to publish but to satisfy yourself. That helped me.

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  21. Sounds fabulous, Diane! I'm so glad you had a chance to hang out with writers and had your "ah ha" moment. Now get back to work. :-)

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  22. How awesome! That sounds like my sort of writing retreat. One day, I'll have to go on one. :)

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    1. I hope you get a chance, Christine. They are great.

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  23. Retreats and workshops and even conferences are always so inspiring.

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    1. That they are, Lynda. Thanks for stopping by.

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  24. Every retreat is special in its own way, but this year I really felt I learned some new ways of looking at a story. I'm looking forward to applying them to my wip.

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    1. I felt that way too, Lucy. What a great feeling.

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  25. Great post! Made me want to go! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope you'll get a chance, MJ. If not to ours (I know it's a hike for you) but to one closer.

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  26. Wow! That sounds like a wonderful retreat!

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    1. It was, Maureen. I'm still energized from all I learned.

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  27. I wish we could establish just such a retreat in Virginia--or somewhere closer to Virginia than Michigan! Sounds like my idea of collegiality, fun and information I can use. Nice post!

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    1. Maybe you can, Susan. Start small--like my group did 30+ years ago. A bed & breakfast where you can meet. Just a thought. Thanks for stopping by.

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  28. Sorry I'm late responding...crazy day yesterday getting ready to go out of town and my children's granny passed away.

    Anyway sounds like this was a great retreat!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Good luck and God's blessings.
    PamT

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    1. Pam, I'm sorry for your family's loss. Thanks for stopping by.

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  29. And then there's that in-room massage . . . LOVE our Retreat!!

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  30. That sounds like a GREAT writers' retreat! I'm jealous as heck of the experience.

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  31. What a wonderful retreat. I'd love time to recharge and maybe experience a "ah-ha" moment.

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    1. Recharging is right, Diane. I've written over 3k words since.

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  32. It sounds like a wonderful time! I hope someday I get to go to a retreat. It's going to have to wait until the kiddos grow up first though!

    Hope all goes well with your ah-ha moment!

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    1. I know what you mean about waiting, Loni. Hope you get a chance soon.

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  33. Now if we can only get a syfy/fantasy writing version of this in Michigan, I'd be all set.

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    1. Ken, non-RWA members can come to our retreat. Let's talk. dmburton72@gmail.com

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