A Writing Retreat in the Woods

It occurs to me that I haven’t posted about the writer’s retreat last weekend. Which is a shame, because it was quite the adventure.

I signed up for the retreat as soon as I saw it in the church bulletin. Jesus, writing and s’mores? In a quiet cabin in the Kentucky woods? SIGN. ME. UP. Which turned out to be a good call, as the retreat filled up really quickly, and everyone on earth asked me to do something else that weekend shortly thereafter.

There are some people who say the more resistance you encounter before doing something, the more important it is that you actually follow through and do it. Then there are some people who say that if a bazillion obstacles appear, maybe that means it’s not meant to be.

I tend to think you amend which of those beliefs you hold after you’ve decided to go through with it, come Hell or high water, or to bow out. It’s a philosophy prone to sour grapes and I told you so.

At any rate, I did go on the retreat, despite a number of things coming up that conflicted with it, for which I’m deeply grateful to Chris, my dad and Sandra, my kids, my sisters and everyone who ultimately let me off the hook and allowed me to go. It may not take a village to raise a child, but apparently it takes one to get a 39-year-old social media nerd safely off to a 24 hour writing retreat.

It was a good thing I went, because the cabin was a good bit more rustic and remote than I think many people were expecting. In fact, my 4WD Tracker was the only vehicle out of three that could make it all the way up the private lane. Which is where the uphill foot trail started. Which eventually arrived at the cabin. So I spent a bit of time ferrying people and supplies up the lane before it got dark, and on the way out.

I’m going to decide that means I was supposed to go. In fact, if I got any guidance from God over the course of the retreat, it was simply that I’m in the right place, at the right time. Because I kept, quite literally, being in the right place at the right time during the retreat.

I find that really encouraging, because I continually feel like I’m a day late and a dollar short, as well as probably standing on the wrong platform at the wrong train station. I have felt discouraged, feeling like I should have returned to fiction writing a couple of years ago. Considering my work and my “day job” is in digital publishing, I feel like I’m coming laughably late to the party. I think about where I might be if I’d started sooner, and it’s disheartening.

But I wasn’t ready then. I look back at my blogs and paper journals from two or three years ago, and I realize I was in a different place. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Not necessarily where I want to be, but where I should be. I’m on the right path, headed the right direction, in fellowship with the right set of companions.

Which is the best start to almost any adventure. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

A few specific items of interest, aside from my personal epiphany:

  • I am not imagining that there’s a “Christian writer” artistic ghetto just like there’s a genre (meaning science fiction/fantasy/horror) “artistic ghetto” in publishing
  • Aside from getting confirmation of that at the retreat, I also read a great post on the subject from fellow spec fiction writer, Christian and Hoosier, Maurice Broaddus this week.
  • It doesn’t really matter, because you can make cool art, even in an artistic ghetto
  • I possibly do not suck at poetry as badly as I thought I did.
  • Poetry’s still not my best genre.
  • I seriously need to pick up some Flannery O’Connor.
  • Gray Henry is the most awesome real-person name I’ve ever heard.
  • Apparently, lots of people think Kat French is an awesome real-person name.
  • I should find Gray Henry so we can bask in the glory of our awesome names together.
  • Only 12 people at a writing retreat means I only have to explain what steampunk is at most 11 times.
  • Beauty and holiness are separate but related things.
  • A lot of people have worse relationships with their mom than “she’s dead so we don’t talk much.”

There was probably more, but I need to get this finished and published. Dave Harrity from Antler did a great job leading the retreat. I was bummed that our Arts minister, Michael Winter, was not able to come, but happy to hear that his wife is recovering from being in the hospital. I was REALLY glad I brought my 4WD and hiking boots.

If you want to jump in with a comment, tell me about a time where you JUST HAPPENED to have the EXACT thing someone else needed, right when they needed it.

Have a great weekend!


  1. ·

    Sounds incredible.

    Thanks for sharing an awesome tale.

    Erm, what is “artistic Ghetto”?

  2. Kat French

    It basically means you get labeled, and “mainstream” or “literary” publishers or agents aren’t interested in your work. It’s a marketing ghetto, corral or label moreso than an artistic one, but it means that it’s harder to be taken seriously.

    Then again, a woman who self-published Twilight fanfic erotica just inked a movie deal this year…


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