This past week I attended my first ever writer’s retreat. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had an idea of what I hoped for. I wanted time to write, to get a decent start on a new book idea running through my head, and to connect with other writer’s. Most of that didn’t happen.
Life interfered, and I didn’t get the planning in that I needed prior to the retreat. Being unprepared threw me off. Plus, I was sick one night and much of the next day after eating something that disagreed with me. I certainly hadn’t planned for that. Who does?
Still, something amazing happened at the retreat. There were over twenty of us, all women, from younger single women, to those married with young children, and some in their later years with grandchildren. But, we all had one thing in common—we were Christian writers, writers interested in sci-fi and fantasy, or as some call the genre-speculative fiction. These were my people.
On the final evening of the retreat we all sat in a large room and each took a turn sharing what the retreat meant to us, or a bit about ourselves and why we were impacted. As I listened and shared, I was astonished. Despite all our varied backgrounds, we all were gifted or called by God to become writers, and almost all of us were struggling with major issues in our lives.
Those hurtful issues meant a box of tissues was passed from one to the next as we spoke. We stopped to pray for one woman, and I continue to pray for her and her situation and for some of the others who touched me so deeply. During the sharing and time of prayer, I could feel the connection to these women. A connection that amazed me and one I hope to keep.
After returning home, I couldn’t quit thinking about the struggles and pain we were going through and what that means to us as writers called or gifted by God. I thought of 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted.” (NKJV)
We are all called to comfort one another, especially when we see someone experiencing a trial we have gone through. But, as writers, we have a special opportunity to reach many with our words. We may not be able to share the exact circumstances of our struggle, but we can share the emotional turmoil we went through: grief, loss, loneliness, anger, abuse, etc.
My hope, and the hope of many other writers, is that through our words, others might find hope in their situation. We all have that commonality of suffering.
James 1:2 says, “…count it all joy when. You fail into various trials…” (NKJV)
It is easier for me to “count it all joy” when I consider the possibility of helping someone else. When I can write about my difficulty and have a reader connect because they’ve faced that same problem.
I am so thankful for the retreat, and the plan God had for me there. I didn’t get that great start on my book, but I did receive encouragement, enlightenment, and new friends that understand my weird way of thinking. I love them all and am so thankful.