I’m sitting on a porch in a rocking chair in the middle of the woods in Tennessee. It rained last night — after a night where the moon and clouds worked together to canvas the sky with light — and this morning everything smells new. A dog named after Buster Keaton sits at my feet. The only sound of technology or the modern world is the tap of laptop keys on either side of me.

Welcome to the Woodthrush Writers Retreat, an informal and lovely gathering of writers from near and far, all hosted by writer Mary Robinette Kowal and her family. Since I’ve been here, I’ve written more than 10,000 words on the novel, eaten far more fantastic home-cooked food than I should have, and participated in conversations about plot, diabetes-detecting dogs, playing the musical saw, and so many other things that I’ve forgotten at least half of them. I’ve cheered along with announcements like “I finished that chapter!”, “I wrote another 1,000 words!”, and “I figured out the gondola scene!” I was here when the Geek Love Kickstarter counted down to its final second, and we all had port to celebrate its success.

In the real world, I have a community of writers, but they are spread out all over the internet and I rarely get to see them in person. And when I do, it’s often in the capacity of our ‘professional’ selves — meaning usually at a convention where we’re giving readings, doing panels, or teaching classes. The act of writing itself is most often (at least for me) done in solitude. The opportunity to sit in silence, surrounded by other creative people who are doing what they love is rare. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity.

There is a lot going on in my professional life right now: I’m editing a tabletop roleplaying game and co-editing (and, essentially, publishing) a collection of geek erotica. I just finished a successful Kickstarter (which is WAY more work than I ever believed possible — more information on that coming soon). I have a novel due to my editor very soon. Wordstock festival is coming up. I have two erotica classes on the horizon.

All-in-all, my life feels very busy, but very wonderful. Not surprisingly, all of that other stuff makes it hard to find time to write. Having the chance this week to put my head down and focus on the words on the page — to essentially return to my first love — brings me joy and peace, and a sense of accomplishment like no other.

I owe a lot of people a lot of things right now, but mostly I feel like I owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who supports me, who is kind to me, who offers me opportunities, who ‘gets’ me. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where I’d be, but I certainly wouldn’t be here, now, with the smell of the rain and the silent hum of like minds and the promise of story.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

PS — Lest you think it is all fun and games here, I will say that there are mosquitoes the size of sesame seeds who misread the buffet sign and think I am here for their dining pleasure. In fact, I’m writing this post as fast as I can so that I can safe it and go inside, where I am less likely to get eaten alive.