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.
More info here.