I’ve been given a tremendous gift in my sponsorship to Rainforest Writers Village, Session 2. Held at Lake Quinault, Washington on the edge of the Olympic National Forest, the natural setting is almost as inspiring as the vibe of my fellow writers as we write together at tables in the Lounge of the Resort restaurant. A popular summer getaway, in Spring the resort is quiet, so we have it almost to ourselves. Founded by Patrick Swenson of Fairwood Press, the retreat is in its fifth year and, for the first time, running two sessions back to back.
Four days with limited phone and internet access dedicated to writing. There are guests like Mary Robinette Kowal and Kat Richardson who speak on such topics as setting, how to give a reading, story lessons from puppetry and even how to multitask. None of these are required sessions, so writers are free to write through them. There are social opportunities at meals, on hikes and at meet and greets and signings. But the majority of the time is set aside for writing. I’ve wanted to attend the retreat ever since I heard of it on the wall of my friend author Ken Scholes. Seeing the list of those who attended: Jay Lake, Brenda Cooper, James Van Pelt, John Pitts, Nancy Kress — all people I admire, I just had to be part of it. But the session sold out in 1 day. I was out of luck.
By the time Patrick added the second session, I’d lost my day job and the finances seemed impossible. So I had to resign myself to waiting again. But I kept in touch with Patrick, who, knowing my enthusiasm, offered me the sponsorship when the original recipient dropped out, a month before the retreat. Using frequent flyer miles and with a few donations from others, the retreat is now a reality and what a joy it is.
You might not get it if you’re not a writer. After all, sitting around all day in silence writing probably doesn’t appeal to you. But for writers, it’s a tremendous opportunity to work with few distractions and get a lot of work done in the presence of people who are experienced and successful and offer encouragement just through their acceptance of you as a peer. It makes me feel like part of the science fiction writing business in a way I haven’t felt before, and that’s a good feeling, a feeling of success.
Making contacts and networking is another benefit. I’ve met fellow editor Jennifer Brozek, publisher Patrick, SFWA Vice President Mary Robinette Kowal, and more. Many Twitter friends are here as well. It’s a privilege to be among them, and a joyful opportunity to cheer them on.
Despite getting sick this morning and missing the hike due to a sore ankle, I have enjoyed the day and been so encouraged. I started a new chapter of the second space opera novel and worked on two short stories, as well as doing more editing on freelance projects. I’ve also blogged twice today, a first for a long time. It’s just refreshing, given the discouragements of the past 10 months. And I’m grateful for the privilege of joining this community.
I look forward to the days to come.
For what it’s worth…