We used to say that spring and fall were the seasons for writing conferences. Now there are writing conferences throughout the year, and I’m delighted to see them proliferate like that. It means there will be even more good books out there soon. But there are pitfalls for those who attend the conference. And whether you're a writer or a reader, I think you'll be interested in this advice.
One of the biggies, the annual meeting of the American Christian Fiction Writers, has just ended. For multi-published “veterans,” it is a wonderful opportunity to renew and strengthen relationships already established. For unpublished writers, it presents one of the best chances to hear things that make your fiction even better while forging friendships with like-minded folks. And for most of those who attend, the conference (and others like it) will represent a mountaintop experience that leaves you energized. You’ll return home with new determination and a sense of mission. That’s great, but a word of caution is warranted—coming down off a mountain can be difficult.
Think about the contrast between your life at a conference and your everyday existence. At the conference, those around you (by and large) understand your views, your problems, and even your activities. At home, most people have no idea what a writer does, what the roadblocks to publication are, how to deal with situations when the words just won’t come or the plot wants to bog down and grind to a halt. At the conference, there’s time for prayer, for worship, for listening to speakers who talk about doing a better job at what you do and why it’s important. At home, you work to snatch time to write, your support system is entirely different, and there are times when you wonder if it’s all worth it.
Once we’ve ascended the mountain to hang out at conference with others of a like mind, it’s tough to get back to the lonely valley below. We may discover that the agent or editor who said, “Send me a proposal” wasn’t as interested as they seemed. It’s possible that the brilliant idea we had for our novel looks less than golden when re-examined in our office at home. We may even find ourselves remembering snippets of conversation, shoved to the back of our consciousness at the time, that remind us of the limited opportunities for writers to hit it big.
Sometimes the answer lies in chocolate and talking with friends. In most cases, though, the best remedy for the depression that lies in wait at the foot of the mountain is to remember why we’re writing in the first place…and for whom. That’s why I have these lines from author B. J. Hoff on a card above my computer. I commend them to you now:
“It matters not if the world has heard
Or approves or understands…
The only applause we’re meant to seek
Is that of nail-scarred hands.”
I'm pleased to offer a copy of my latest novel, Medical Judgment, to a randomly selected commenter. Don't forget to include your email address so I can contact the winner, who will be chosen in about a week.
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