Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Retreat Bliss (by Jena Benton Lasley)

A few members attended the first ever retreat at the beautiful Knik River Lodge in Palmer the first weekend in May.  There was time to get to know one another, time to create and/or write, time to be secluded (if one chose) or learn at one of the many workshops that were held during the weekend.  Tricia Brown showed us how to use Skype for author presentations in classrooms around the world, David Onofrychuck gave us incredible insight to "Show, Don't Tell" and we listened to Ada Zhang of Sterling via Skype talking about the Art of Subtlety and Suggestion in our writing among many others.

It was an amazing weekend that left everyone buzzing with excitement and reinvigorated to pursue our writing and illustrating passions.  We made new friends and connections, learned a lot, created more and left driving out through the clouds.  At least that's how it felt.  That is almost always how I feel after a retreat: floating on clouds.

It was a time to come together and work with others who were pursuing the same goals.  We don't get to do that frequently, if ever.  More often than not, we are explaining to our friends and family why we must make time for our "hobby" away from them.  They don't get it.

A retreat is the opportunity to be with others who DO get it.  And all that positive energy just leaves you with a buzz akin to a caffeine high.  What a rush!  What a joy!  And to think, we just might be able to do it all over again next year at the same time and place.  YES!

Even better, we have the Fall conference to look forward to as well.  I don't know about you, but I'm working like crazy to prep manuscripts and portfolios for the upcoming conference.  But I miss that weekend already.  It's beginning to feel more and more magical as time passes and becoming dusted with a rosy glow in my memory.  Was it really that good?

It's easy to forget that comeraderie is SO vital for writers and illustrators who work alone.  There is no other way to work at our craft after all.  I long for more community and communion with other writers and artists.  There are monthly meetings but many of us get busy and can't make those for a majority of reasons.  How then do we keep that buzz, that rush, that energy propelling us forward?  How do we keep fellowship with those of like minds a continual priority?  I don't have an answer, but I definitely long for that weekend all over again.  It was SO worth it!