Today’s post is brought to you by Kathy Brasby, former retreat newbie.
Maybe you’ve heard about ACFW Colorado’s 5th annual retreat coming up in April. Maybe you’re on the planning committee and have already put in your registration. (Yeah, I know, you’re going to do that this week.)
But maybe you’ve never been to a retreat and not sure why you’d want to break that streak. After all, it’ll cost at least a hundred bucks and you’d have to drive clear to Ponderosa.
I’m here for you. I stood in your shoes last year, wondering why I should go. In my case, a tidal wave called my dear friend Coral said, “We should go!” and so we went. It’s hard to refuse Coral’s bubbly smile. She doesn’t know a stranger.
I could hide behind her, I figured.
I’m going back this year without Coral (she moved to Florida).
And I want to be Coral for you. Writers tend to be introverts, shy and happier to hide behind a book than go meet someone new. I mean, what do you talk about after getting their name and genre? The color of the wall?
Let me give you some conversation boosters. (These are helpful after the name/genre startup questions, which you already have down, right?)
- Where are you from? This one has more potential than you think. It’s OK to admit you don’t know where Ovid is and it’s OK to ask not only where it is but what it’s like. And here’s a bonus question: ask them how their location has affected their writing. You’ll probably launch into a wonderful discussion of their work. At worst, you’ll gain some confidence in asking such a probing question.
- How did you get into fiction writing? Their story could fill the entire time in the lunch line.
- What are you reading right now? If you’ve read the book, tell them so and enjoy the interaction. If you haven’t, find out what they liked and learned.
- How do you get your ideas? What brainstorming methods do you like? These could fill the entire free-time hole on Saturday, although you really ought to go disc golfing with me during that time.
Come up with a couple more questions like this. You can do this: you write. If you need to inscribe them on the inside of your hand or on an index card you keep on you at all times, there’s no shame. Most people there are like you. They are nervous when they meet new people and their brain may well go as blank as yours does. They might even borrow your card of questions.
One of our biggest fears as writers is that someone will announce the king wears no clothes, us being the king. We tend to doubt our abilities, whether we’ve just begun or published a slug of books. The biggest thing to remember is what we all have in common. We write. We read. We serve God.
Your job at the retreat is not to impress anybody but to hear God whisper to you. Hear Kim Vogel Sawyer speak words of encouragement and inspiration to you. Allow others to pour God’s grace into you. And pour God’s grace back to others, too.
Here’s the bottom line: if you come to the retreat, God’s going to speak to you and through you. See you there!
For more information about the retreat and to register visit the ACFW Colorado web site here.
Kathy Brasby is the founder of Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group. A former journalist, Kathy writes blogs, essays and stories. When not writing, Kathy (along with her family) operates a small hobby farm in northeast Colorado.