My last status report here was as the #5amWritersClub virtual retreat was starting: Unforgettable Characters and Incredible Journeys. The retreat blew me away, and it’s taken me all this time to find myself back on shore.
Exactly as I expected, it helped me see my novel-in-progress from new perspectives. It gave me tools for understanding how to create memorable characters and how to craft a story that will pull readers inexorably along.
The unexpected mattered more.
First, was legitimacy.
Many writers, I discovered, feel—sometimes or often—as if they aren’t real writers. If they’re not published, or not published recently, or not selling, or not sure they’ll make their deadline, or not currently writing, or not currently writing enough—looking after the kids or a parent or the dog or the day job and not getting words on the page—or if they’re in a slump or lonely or have lost their juice or are drowning in tears or tired of doing everything by Zoom or have lost belief in their project, they feel like a fraud.
Knowing that writers I respect can feel that way, but that when I look at them I see someone admirable, tenacious, authentic, and true, changed the way I see myself.
I love to write. Sometimes, I do it well. Sometimes, what I write bolsters another human. Always, it bolsters me.
And now I know that’s enough for me to keep on doing it.
Second, and the most important part of the retreat for me, was community.
Writing is solitary and lonely, we’re often told. But I, although an introvert, have discovered that a writing community is essential to my well-being.
I need solitude, I need a bit of loneliness, but I need them in context of a supportive group that cheers for me, cares about my progress, and wants me to succeed.
Along with a few cherished in-real-life friends, #5amWritersClub has become that community for me. Its members, especially but not only those who were on this UCIJ retreat, have become dear to me, people I cheer for, whose progress matters to me, whom I want to succeed. They’ve become people who help me remember every day that I am, indeed, a writer, and that writing can be fun.
Yes, I will write better because of this retreat. And I’m so glad and grateful.
But truly, my joy is that I am better, and feel better, as a human because of the hours I spent in a group of kind, honest, generous people who like to make things with words.
The second session of the virtual retreat happens this fall and once it’s wrapped up, applications will be open for future sessions. Learn more on Twitter at #UCIJRetreat2021, where you’ll find reviews by some of my retreat colleagues. For more information about future UCIJ retreats or about #5amWritersClub, get in touch with organizer Ralph Walker on Ko-Fi or Twitter. You can also find Ralph on his website.