Monday, July 31, 2006

To Conference or Not To Conference

Hey Everyone, I'm next up on the ACFW Conference blog tour!

"This is your president speaking... " LOL, just had to say it. But look, if you're an ACFW member, great! Hi. Welcome. If you're not an ACFW member, but are interested in publishing, stick around!

So, you want to be a writer? Me, too. It's the best job anywhere. But like all great things, it comes at a price.

Recently, in an online interview, I was asked to give advice to new or unpublished authors. I rambled on, pontificating, and several days later, I realized brevity is the soul of wit and came up with this wise, sage advice. (I wasn't witty that day.)

Writing is about discipline and sacrifice as much as it is about inspiration and craft.

King David said this in 2 Samuel: "But I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing." So, David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."

David understood cost, the price. Many times we want to arrive for free. We ask, "If God called me, why is it so hard?"

Because there's beauty in the burning of an offering, in burning the "fat" from around our hearts.

Attending a writer's conference can be just that for so many people. A burnt offering. You're out of your comfort zone, living for three days with people you don't know well. Meeting with editors and agents, trying to pitch your story idea so they're hooked and want to read your manuscript.

There's the stress of learning the craft. Worrying if you talked to much during dinner, or if the story you told about your son when he was four offended someone. The lady across from you had a weird look on her face.

Conferences can be disappointing. Your critique didn't go well. You felt obtuse and thick during your editor or agent appoint. After that, the attendee sitting next to you at dinner gushed about her home run with Editor A and Agent B.

You found out two others are pitching the exact same story idea as you. Must have been watching Oprah the same day.

The person you've been emailing privately from the loop, and each said you can't wait to meet in Dallas, didn't seem all that interested in hanging out with you after you each squealed and hugged in the hotel lobby.

Your roommate snores. Your spouse calls because the kids are driving him/her crazy. Your mother calls and wonders why you're wasting money the family doesn't have.

Ah, the sweet aroma of sacrifice. It can be frustrating and overwhelming.

But we cannot offer to the Lord what costs us nothing. I've been out of pocket the price of a conference many times - if not money, time. The past 4 years, I've worked the ACFW conference in some manner to cover my costs.

But here's the benefit. After all the disappointment has been shed, the tears cried, the manuscript ripped to shreds, and your spouse stopped you from putting your foot through the computer screen, a beam of light hits your heart. An idea.

You sit down at the computer. The opening scene flashes across your mind like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Your fingers are flying...

Yeah, you're a writer. If you stick with it. Don't give up. Pray for God's timing and the price of a conference.

Attending a conference is not the magic ingredient to being published, but it says this, "I'm serious. I'm pursuing this. And I won't offer to God what costs me nothing."

See you in Dallas 2006!


Heather Diane Tipton said...

great post! woohooo can't wait for September!

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Great post, Rachel. Last year was my first conference and it was SOOO great. Lots of great people, workshops, networking, etc... I can't go this year, but will continue to go to ACFW conference whenever possible.

I hope if there's someone thinking of going, they'll go--It's worth it!

CHickey said...

I can't wait for conference! This will be my first and I've been wondering on alot of the same points you mentioned in your blog. I'm very nervous.

Tracey Bateman said...

Great post Rach.
Don't be nervous, Chickey!! We'll protect you.