Last week, I attended the 2016 Aspiring Writers Workshop hosted by Madcap Retreats. The event brought 42 aspiring writers together in a big house in the middle of nowhere, TN for three days of learning, listening, and being.
I drove from NY to TN. On the way down, I broke up my trip into two days and stopped at Luray Caverns in VA. I love caves so much and I felt like visiting one before the workshop was an auspicious way to start the trip.
When I arrived at the retreat house, a giant wall of windows greeted me inside. The space was light and airy. A perfect place to host the workshop.
It was incredibly soul-feeding to be among people going through the same journey I am. There was no explaining necessary because everyone just got it. The number of times in my life when I’ve felt this way can be counted on one hand.
I laughed with my new friends and cried with them. In the space of three days, I felt like I found family. And I learned so much. There was an incredible amount of information thrown our way during those long days of workshops. I think the important parts stuck the most, so I’m not worried about the parts that are lost to me now.
Maggie Stiefvater spent a lot of time ingraining the idea that we are idea-makers, creative people, not just writers. This is a concept that I’ll carry with me because it helps me see the world differently.
Courtney Stevens’ words are mostly lost to me now, but her infectious zeal for life and improving oneself stayed with me. Of everyone at the retreat, she gave me the courage and desire to be better.
And I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Natalie Parker who organizes Madcap retreats. She invests huge amounts of time and energy into organizing and her efforts are evident in how wonderful the workshop was. It was life-changing. And soul-feeding. And everything I wanted it to be.
The last night there, we had a bonfire where we all burned boxes we’d been decorating with ideas for the past several days. We had the chance to write one last thing on the box before we burned it. I burned my fear and self-doubt, letting them rise into the night with the burning embers.
This workshop has not only given me tools to improve my craft but the love and support of everyone who attended. I can face the hard path of a writer because I have my tribe behind me. And I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to experience this with everyone there.