AWESOME! – That Time In The Mountains

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I’ve been quiet for a while, trying to figure out what I could blog about. Now, I have the absolute BEST thing to write about.

For the past week, I have been away on a Writers retreat (Smoky Mountain Writers- SMW) with about <20 AMAZING people. When I arrived, I only knew one person, one of my mentors who pulled me into this. I was petrified, not knowing who these people are, just knowing they were writers and friends with my mentors. Said mentors assured me that these were good people, and I trust them, which is why I agreed to go. I thought, hey, it’s a good experience, and great networking. However, with my shyness and reluctance to interact with other people, I was still a bit anxious about how I would fair during an 8-day retreat in the middle of nowheresville Tennessee (The mountains in Gatlinburg, for anyone’s information) with a bunch of people I didn’t know. At worst, I’d get some writing done, get some sleep and food, and not embarrass the heck out of myself.

Man, I was SOOOOOO GLAD that it was much more than that.

My drive was difficult to say the least. I drove through a blizzard on I-81 for over 8 hours, finally stopping 15 miles from the VA/TN border on Saturday night. I continued the drive Sunday morning, and when I got there, I learned it had been totally worth it (no matter how much my mom said she was going to kick my @$$ when I got home).

Sure, a majority of our time was silent writing time (which, over 6.5 days, I’d written over 28k). At first it was hard to interact with these people, because all of them had some sort of connections with other cabinmates. Most had been to Balticon, and were planning on returning this May. Some were co-authoring works together, and others had been friends for years. It was intimidating, being the odd one out.

Then came the surprising part: they attempted to include me. Like, talking to me, actually WANTING to get to know ME, of all people. They understood the challenges I’d had in life, because all of them had been through it too. They were welcoming, kind, CRAZY people, so much like me that it stunned me for a bit. They got me to do things I never would have done elsewhere. I read some of my raw work EVERY NIGHT. I watched a New Zealand vampire ‘documentary’ (coming soon to places other than NZ- What We Do In The Shadows). I even hot-tubbed OUTSIDE in 30° temperatures!

Before I arrived, I believed this would be an amazing opportunity to network and make connections. I hadn’t really expected to make 17 new friends. By the time I had to say my tearful goodbye (Bad weather on last day, so left early), I trusted them so much, and I hope they will be friends with me for a long, long time. They were amazing, creative, spontaneous, CRAZY people, and I miss them so much already.

Onto Smoky Writers 2016!

As Stu WILL say, “AWWWWESUMMMM!”

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