What brought us together, besides a love of story and the dream of publication?
We connected over laptops and early mornings and late nights during the second annual MBT Deep Thinkers Retreat in Clearwater, Florida.
We’re a diverse group. Our ages range from 15 to “It’s impolite to ask a lady how old she is.” We converged from Iowa and Indiana and Minnesota and Colorado and North Carolina and Georgia and Pennsylvania, and yeah, we even had retreat speaker Rachel Hauck, who drove her cute convertible a few miles up the Florida coast.
During our five days in a lovely bayside house — complete with a pool and an oversized hammock for lounging — we learned more about the writing craft from Susan May Warren and Rachel.
Susie believes “a great book is rewritten, not written.” And so, she and Rachel worked with us, both individually and in groups, to make sure our story structure, aka the spine, was straight. And then they taught us about character layering and backstory and writing emotions and word painting.
But woven through all the time of study — and there was a whole lot of learning going on — relationships were built. Groups of twos and threes and fours sat together and brainstormed scenes. Women prayed with one another and set aside their stories to help someone else get past a roadblock in their book. Yes, sometimes there were groans of frustrations. But there was even more laughter and cheers when someone finally declared, “I know what to do next!”
We were fed wonderful meals by Alena and Ginger, who even took care of those who were gluten-intolerant. (I’m just thankful they didn’t post calorie listings!) And each morning we started with a devotion that reminded us to keep our eyes focused on the reasons why we write: for God’s glory and to reveal his truth.
This was my second Deep Thinkers retreat and I’m already making plans for the 2012 retreat. Why? For Susie’s and Rachel’s teaching and input on my story? You betcha! But equally important, I know how many hours I spend with just my laptop and my story. I know the value of relationships with other writers. And that’s one of the often overlooked must-haves that I gained from Deep Thinkers — community.
Beth K. Vogt is the editor of Connections, MOPS International’s leadership magazine, and a regular contributor to MomSense. Beth was a confirmed non-fiction writer until the persistent call of the Voices lured her to the “Dark Side.” Her work-in-progress is a romantic comedy. Her critique groups affectionately call her “The Evil Editor.” To learn more about Beth, visit her at ”In Others’ Words.”