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By Stacy Monson — August 28, 2014

The past year or so of my writing journey has been a bit rocky, to say the least. The worst part was fearing I’d truly lost my love for writing. It seemed to be totally dried up. I couldn’t write new words. I didn’t even have energy for editing (my favorite part of writing). I felt like my grandbaby looks in the photo below (no, she didn’t get hurt!).

Six month baby! 186The last few months, however, I’ve noticed the tiniest flicker of interest deep inside. I pulled up a story I hadn’t worked on for quite awhile. It was fun getting reacquainted with the characters. I puttered around with it, writing in fits and starts.

But last week, things changed. I climbed into my car withCamp Utmost 3 other women writers and off we went to a writer’s retreat in Missoula, Montana. Four women in a car for hours on end. We could have gotten lost in the wilderness of North Dakota (I think that’s an oxymoron) and had plenty to eat for a month. Chocolate, fruit, licorice, brownie crisps, nuts, crackers… We ate for 16+ hours out and 16+ hours back, and still had food left over! And the amount of luggage for a long weekend? Too ridiculous to mention…

But it wasn’t the food that got me energized about writing again. And much as I love, love, LOVE the mountains, it wasn’t the scenery that did it. It was the writers, most of whom I didn’t know before the retreat started on Friday.

Writers can be weird people. We live with movies playing non-stop in our heads (complete with theme music), have conversations with people we make up, and get upset if those people do things we don’t want them to do. Definitely weird. But also sensitive, caring, hopeful, expectant, faithful, and encouraging. Best of all, encouraging.

Group shoulder rubThese gals (and 1 guy) were at all stages of the writing journey – just starting out to multi-published. Many were stuck in their plots, or wrestling with unruly characters. But what struck me the most was how absolutely encouraging everyone was to everyone else. (We’re giving shoulder rubs in this photo, not doing the bunny hop!)

“What do you write? How is that going for you? How can I help you?” Over and over these questions were asked as we got to know each other. Asked and answered. It was amazing. At times we laughed ourselves into tears. We hugged. We wrote ideas and encouragement on post-its for each other. We shared communion, worshipped together, and Human foosballlaughed hysterically while trying to play human foosball.

It was EXACTLY what I needed. And God knew that. I believe He handpicked everyone who was there so just the right group gathered to worship, write, and encourage. Next year the group may look completely different, and THAT will be just the right group. But this was the right group for me. And the right time and place.

I returned home tired, stiff (after hours and hours in the car), and totally re energized. I WANT to write. I’m excited again about this journey. I’m eager to see what’s around the next bend. And most importantly, I believe in myself and my writing again.

Book displays and photo bombersI prayed that the weekend would bring much-needed answers and renewed energy. I got that and so much more in the community of other writers. What a blessing!


(20) Readers Comments

  1. Kav
    August 28, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Wow, sounds like an awesome experience, Stacy! I've never even been in the same room with a few fellow writers so the idea of a full out retreat is mind blowing. What a journey to get there though. Glad you had the presence of mind to fortify yourselves for the journey.

    • August 28, 2014 at 6:42 am

      Kav, we're going to have to get you here to hang out with some fabulous writers (the Inkspers!!) - it's really a wonderful experience. And yes, I was relieved to see, as we tried to cram everything into my Camry, that we at least wouldn't starve for the weekend. :)

  2. August 28, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Stacy, That is TERRIFIC news that your writing spirit is renewed! You are a good writer. I know I was fortunate enough to hear you read your work. I still remember your opening to that book from time to time. I'm always renewed when I have a chance to visit with other writer's about writing.

    • August 28, 2014 at 6:50 am

      That inspires me too, Rose. Especially watching people work their way through tough times and come out stronger. YOU all inspire me - unfortunately it's from a distance.

  3. Dawn Ford
    August 28, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I'm so excited for you, Stacy! I know how defeating it feels when you can't get anything to come up to the surface. It really can be the best medicine, being around other writers. We understand and can sympathize when others just think we're a little odd. Keep that fire burning!!!

    • August 28, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      I love that image, Dawn - not getting anything to come to the surface. It's definitely been submerged for quite a while, but finally it's risen to the surface.

  4. Rachel Neal
    August 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for sharing your heart Stacy! Your beautiful words reflect what many of us were feeling. God knew we needed the retreat and one another....

    • August 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Rachel, what a joy it was to meet you and the rest of the MT crowd. Looking forward to working together on upcoming cover art!!

  5. August 28, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Yeah! I'm so glad you were able to go! I know how much you needed this! (Though we missed you at our MN NICE meeting!) Now, if we could only get all the Inkspers together in one place!

    • August 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      If we can't get together physically, at least we have an online community to share the journey with. It's almost as good as gathering around a table to share, encourage, and eat chocolate. :)

  6. August 28, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Stacy, I'm so glad you were able to get a boost from your group of writer friends. I know it's been a tough year for you, and there's nothing like stress to zap the muse.

    • August 28, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Lorna, I know the difficulties in life build character (or something like that!) so I figure I must be quite the character by now!!

  7. August 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Stacy, What a complete delight you are and I am blessed to know you and grateful that I was one of the lucky people given the opportunity to roadtrip to Montana with you. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. What a great time. You said it exactly right too. So much positivity!

    • August 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Julie! One of my roadies! Looking forward to repeating the trip with you next summer, if not before. If we can pull off this retreat here in Minnesota, we'll get to share the fun with the amazing writers here at home.

  8. Narelle Atkins
    August 29, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Stacy, I'm so glad to read your post, and I'm so happy to hear you're back in the saddle, so to speak! You're a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of your words :)

    • September 1, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Thanks, Narelle. I'm so grateful for the writing buddies God has given me - from Minnesota to Montana to Australia!

  9. August 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Stacy, I'm so glad you had such a blessed time. It sounds really wonderful. xoxoxo

    • September 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

      Next year, Suzie, you can drive over from Washington (and you'll get there way faster than me!). That will be a hoot!

  10. Amy Hahn
    August 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Feels good to get that fire back in your belly. Finding a few flickers myself!

    • September 1, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Yay, Amy! It's almost a relief, isn't it?

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