About a month ago I sent out a plea, Friends I Need Your Help. I was so overwhelmed by your responses. I would be remiss not share a little about my subsequent experience.
Well…I survived my first ACFW Writer’s Conference. Even thrived? Maybe… 😉
Imagine…your little wallflower introvert who hasn’t gone on an adventure alone in….. well I lost track. I normally have at least one trusted side-kick at hand. My safety net, a buffer between me and the world. I NEEDED to go alone. Escaping the Nashville swelter, I stepped into the Omni Hotel with roughly 600 other writers. Some aspiring authors, other’s with their first book out, and then the prolific award-winning and bestselling authors. I’m wandering through the crowd. Trying to find a place I fit. I see faces I recognize, but from where? Oh yeah…from the author bio sections of books I’ve read over the years….What am I doing here?
The truth is, I know exactly why I’m there. I’m there to push myself, to put my writing out there. To make myself initiate conversations, and find new friends with similar passions. If I want to grow, I have to have the courage to do things I’ve never done before, things that aren’t my natural inclination.
Ted Dekkar, our keynote speaker with a special gift for bringing the room together, spoke about the power of story. He spoke into the hearts of all the people that can’t not write. Whose hearts come alive as they weave stories. I did belong in that room.
From there I went to my chosen spotlight session, a session where a specific fiction publisher is highlighted by the acquisition editors from that company. I had another, “What am I doing here?” moment. I knew that publishers took on very few debut authors each year. But to hear concretely the numbers of submissions vs. the number of publications….yea. My little brain said, “Amanda, you’re a wallflower by trade. Wallflowers don’t stand out.”
My mind jumped to the next day events, sitting down one-on-one with industry professionals. I’ve never been great with first impressions, more along the lines that people warm up to me over time. I’ve got 15 minutes. Ya know… there are a line of deserving people who would gladly receive my vacated appointment slots should I decide to head for the hills…
Never fear. As much as I am a person who likes to wedge myself firmly in my comfort zones, I’m also too stubborn to back down from the challenges I place in front of myself. Although I’m not afraid to admit, down to the last minute before each appointment I had moments of wanting to walk out of the waiting area. Like Peter standing on the edge of the boat about to step on the water, my mind called out that what I was about to do was unknown and unsafe for my ego, while my spirit knew with all certainty that no matter if I made a fool of myself, Jesus was right there reaching to pull me up. (How exhausting it is, fighting a war between your mind and spirit, and shoving yourself out of your boat…whew.)
So, I guess this is a long way of saying that God answered my prayers for conference. I met some incredible new people. I had the courage to walk through the doors God gave me. You know what was on the other side of those doors? More open doors to share more of my work with interested industry professionals. Opened doors for being mentored by people further on in their writing career. I was so blessed that God allowed me some incredible affirming moments on this particular occasion, moments I will tuck away for quiet seasons. Now I begin preparing for the open doors waiting on the horizon. More courage.
My conference experience is a single scene in a long story, but it was a stretching, affirming, exhausting scene with a clear steps forward.
I hope I’ve encouraged you to keep working toward your dream, writing involved or not. Be faithful to give your all to whatever task God’s given you. It is a worthy battle, fighting to do the thing your heart desires while your mind tells you it’s too hard, or you aren’t good enough. It takes time, and you have to do the work. But if it is the passion God has placed in your heart, it is worth every battle scar, rejection, setback, war with yourself, and step on unknown terrain. How do I know? Because, it’s not really about the end goal after all, it’s really about how the journey changes you.
Let’s be adventurers, darling!
Sincerely. Thank you for your prayers and support. I love this writing adventure, and I love that you all want to come along with me!! You’re wonderful!