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.
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