First, I have super duper awesome rainbow sparkle glitter news. Remember a couple posts ago when I announced my lucky #13 contest entry over at Lascaux Flash?

Like all of the entrants, I’d impatiently waited for the finalists to be announced. I didn’t envy the judge’s task of reading through 283 entries, sorting them, thinking about them, and then discussing them with other folks who would undoubtedly have different perspectives. I really hoped to be a finalist, but with numbers like these, it was unlikely. And I was definitely might have been having a little bit of a pity party for myself.

And so when I checked the Lascaux Flash site this morning and saw that the winners had been announced, I took a deep breath and began scrolling. “Self,” I said, looking through the list of finalists. “Don’t feel bad. You knew it was a long shot. You saw scads and scads of stories that deserved to win.” I scrolled some more. Underneath the list of finalists was the gold medal and beside it, I read, “Winner: #13 Camille Griep: Circumstances.”

flash-gold-2013-white150I’ve never subscribed to the nonsense about doors closing and windows opening (seems like a good excuse to hire a contractor) but it was just last Friday that I was sobbing into my Chardonnay over my annual Clarion West rejection along side the usual weekly story rejections.

We all go through periods where we aren’t sure where we fit in, if we fit in, how we fit in. The solution for me has always been to keep writing. When you do, you open yourself up to those magical moments like I found with this story. Circumstances and all of its characters came to me because I waited for it. I wrote until it surfaced and I edited and scrubbed and tweaked and fussed. And then I tried to put it in a place where it would be understood. I couldn’t be prouder of its final destination and the company it keeps. Cheers. xo

Rainforest Writers Village

A long time ago, a friend of mine told me that romance succeeded not only because of love and hard work, but because of the right timing. Back then, I believed that love was another beast entirely — one made of magic and glitter and beating hearts and poet blouses. These days, I subscribe not only to his theory, but to expanding it to apply to almost all relationships and opportunities.

I spent Wednesday night through Sunday morning of last week in Quinault, Washington at the Rainforest Writers Village Retreat. I knew a couple of writers who were going and had met a couple of the presenters. I didn’t know anyone well. Because both conferences I’d attended the previous years were not my best social experiences, I vowed to do a few things differently.

Viable Paradise taught me that, as a group, we writers tend to be introverts. Hardly anyone bats an eye when you tell a group of writers that too much is going on, that you need to slip away for a bit, that you’ve hit a wall. So instead of pushing my way through the experience, I listened to my own needs. This left me with more than enough energy to write 20,000 (!) words and make a lot of new friends. And not just acquaintances — people who I will continue to strive to keep in my life on a regular basis, despite distance.

I also dropped my assumptions about everyone. I erased my preconcieved notions and allowed myself to get to know people I never would have approached. I didn’t assume people remembered me and I tried not to assume they’d forgotten me. I approached people and chatted with them until it was clear that I shouldn’t — I didn’t simply assume they didn’t want to talk to me. I met everyone at the retreat personally and I can’t wait to learn what every one of them will do next — regardless of their current level.

If you have the opportunity to attend Rainforest, I can’t recommend it enough. The programming is light and optional, but discussion based. There aren’t a lot of big egos around, either. The presenters and ‘veterans’ of the group treated everyone like peers. It wasn’t to say that there weren’t differing opinions on just about everything imaginable, but it was a group full of respect and intelligence and unmitigated talent. I’m privileged to have these folks in my life and an annual event with which to share our vocations.

DSC00347More info here.


Over at Lascaux Flash, I’m contestant lucky number 13 in their annual contest. Stop by at this link here and share your thoughts. If you go to the main site, you can read all the entries and give feedback and support to other writers. There’s also time to enter yourself!

I just arrived at my humble space at the Rainforest Village Writers Retreat. I love it here. It’s exactly as you’d picture it. Soft and mossy and damp and perfect.

Thanks, as always, for visiting.

The Community of Writers

One year ago, I was busy putting words on paper but was only starting to meet other writers. I remember my first Clarion West one-day workshop. I was ridiculously nervous (imposter syndrome) and, I fear, terribly unsociable. And that continued to varying degrees for some time. I’d walk out of a class wondering why everyone else had made friends except for me. All I needed to do was look in a mirror — think outside of myself for a moment. Everyone in the room with me was feeling the same way, they just dug up a little more courage.

My writing network is strong and full of interesting and talented people who I highly respect. Twitter makes a great writing water cooler and I kick myself for my hesitancy to get on the bandwagon. Furthermore, I’ve got a critique group and a writing group that assist me in motivation, progress, and improvement.

The writing group is particularly special. It’s a group of six unique women writers who share experience and support and honest critique in a dynamic I’ve only been lucky enough to experience a few times in my life. I’ll hold on to that like hell because I know groups like these are lightening in a bottle for most writers.

I’m looking forward to attending the Rainforest Writers Village Retreat next week over on the Peninsula and meeting several writers who I’ve chatted with online but have not met. I’m looking forward to great discussions and intense writing time away from my blasted cell phone, which won’t work in the middle of the forest. I hear there are swans there. And squid who live in trees. But I’m far more excited about the swans.

March also brings a resurgence of published pieces (and a big fat pending submissions queue). Next week, I’ll be up at Treehouse Magazine with my experimental piece of recipe fiction hybrid “From the Kitchen of Helena Wilson.” Later that week, I’ll be featured in their “5 Things” series on the parallels between cooking and writing. On March 18th, I’ll be up at Every Day Fiction with my flash piece “One Night in Bangkok,” commissioned for the 2012 Clarion West Write-a-thon by my partner’s sister, Sara. I’ll also be eagerly awaiting my application to Clarion West itself — a long shot, but an opportunity to study with some amazing mentors and superlative peers.

See you when I get back from visiting the world’s largest spruce.