Today’s post is my long awaited write-up on The Northern Shore’s Writer’s Retreat I attended in January. I’ve found that in many cases, it takes me almost a month to truly process everything that happens in a retreat, so I apologize for the delay. I hope you enjoy and I appreciate your patience with me.
I spent the weekend in Rockport, Massachusetts going on a month and a half ago. This was my first real adventure above the Mason-Dixon Line, aside from a couple of brief choir tours to Baltimore and DC. I had great company for the weekend–two of my dearest friends–Jen Rose and Chris Yokel. Aside from being lit geeks, ardent Rabbit Room followers, and Hutchmoot attendees, the main thing the three of us have in common is that we all write in some form or fashion. We were attending the Northern Shores Writer’s Retreat, which I will highly recommend for anyone considering doing writing of any sort, but particularly writing for hire. We heard good advice and great encouragement from the likes of Karl Giberson, Alissa Wilkinson, Jonathan Merritt, Lil Copan, Peter Enns, and John Wilson. Each speaker brought a little something different to the table. They were all willing to sit down and answer questions and chat with conference attendees; there were no “rock stars,” present at the conference, simply writers helping other writers. I love that.
The conference was really great for me, especially on nuts and bolts sorts of things in the writing game. I must confess that I’ve felt like I’ve done nothing, but spin my wheels with writing over the past few months. I don’t like that. This conference really equipped me with the tools I needed to get started. I am particularly grateful for the sessions I attended with Alissa Wilkinson on “Doing the Work” and Jonathan Merritt’s “A Long Obedience.”
Alissa’s sessions were incredibly helpful for me on what to do and what not to do as a new writer. Lord knows I’m scared to death to send a query letter the wrong way and sometimes I feel paralyzed even to write. I feel much more confident now in what I ought to be doing. The biggest take away I have from her sessions–show up. If I worked a regular 9-5 job and never showed up for work, or maybe I showed up, but sat at my desk playing on Facebook or played Spider Solitaire or something all day, I’d get my butt fired really quick. If I were the boss of me, which, guess what, I am, I’d fire myself in a hot second. I realized that I’ve hardly shown up and “worked” in the past few months that I’ve been on this adventure in self-employment. It’s a daily struggle. Mulling this session over left me ashamed at my laziness and encouraged to do the right thing.
So there’s that. Shortly thereafter, I attended Jonathan Merritt’s session based on a quote originally said by Friedrich Nietzsche, but later modified by Eugene Peterson, “Christianity is a long obedience in the same direction.” Jonathan likened this “long obedience” to the work of a writer. Writing is doing the hard thing, taking the lousy writing jobs that no one wants, getting the experience, getting up everyday and doing the work of writing that is both love and hate, fear and joy, and for me in particular, euphoria and torture.
So far, I’ve been pretty terrible at this “long obedience.” But today, I’m trying to be a little less terrible. I’m grateful that I attended this conference. I think you should go with me next year.