Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Coming Down Off The Mountain

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 For unpublished writers, it presents one of the best chances to hear things that make your fiction even better while forging friendships with like-minded folks.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.

Tweet with a single click: "How do writers come down off the mountain after attending a conference?" Click here to tweet.

23 comments:

  1. I have just finished Critical Care, Dr. Mary's books are a must read for me.
    cenya2@hotmail.com

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  2. Thank you for the encouraging words. While I have not yet attended any writing conferences, I have experienced that let down after attending various retreats. It is hard sometimes getting back into the day to day. It is good to remember who we do it for.

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  3. Marjorie, glad you liked Critical Condition. And Claudia, happy my encouraging words helped.

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  4. Interesting. cheetahthecat1986(at)gmail(dot)com.

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  5. I would love to read Medical Judgment! Thanks for the giveaway! d[dot]brookmyer[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  6. Beverly Duell-MooreAugust 31, 2016 at 10:46 AM

    Would to win and read a copy of your latest book! (duellonlysis@aol.com)

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  7. When i had the chance to attend library conferences I always left them with renewed enthusiasm and motivation. It didn't matter that some of the libraries had budgets that tripled our small public library and therefore could offer programs and services that we could never achieve; I always learned something that could benefit our patrons.
    I am glad that you had an enjoyable time and I look forward to reading Medical Judgment.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. Thank you for what you do and for sharing your talent.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  9. Thanks to all of you for your comments. I'll pick a winner at the end of the Labor Day weekend and send an email to them.

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  10. I loved your blog and remembered those same feelings after various conferences. (I tweeted in response about ACFW in FL). Loved your advise you passed on...and you're right on about us remembering who we are writing for...and everything happens in God's time when we keep Him first. Persistance pays off. Thanks! deblynne8@gmail.com

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  11. I understand the coming down off the mountain. I have felt the same way when returning from conferences either Christian or work related. It can be very difficult to come back down to earth! Thanks for the giveaway.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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  12. I'm a reader, but I do know what it is like coming down off the mountain of a retreat or conference. Reality can be a real pain.
    betsylu2@msn.com

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  13. Coming down off the mountain is true of so many retreats/conferences. I enjoyed the first Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in Nashville last week. It was nice to authors and interact with avid reads, too. A very trimely post Dr. Mabry.
    marilynridgway78[at]gmail[dot]com

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  14. Reminds me of the Downhere song "The Beggar Who Gives Alms"
    lauralyric{at}hotmail.com I'm in Canada, if there's a problem with shipping don't pick me.

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  15. soundslike another winner!!!!! thanks for writing awesome books!!! mamawings@!hismercy.org

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  16. Am glad my favorite authors are "fired up" to write more books! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  17. Wise words, Richard. Loved Critical Condition. pat at ptbradley dot com

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  18. Sounds like some good reading--what a blessing to win a free copy. I have yet to be able to attend a writing conference, but sure hope to have the opportunity sometime in the future.
    I have however, been blessed to attend youth camp each summer when I was a teen (MANY years ago!) & wonderful ladies retreats and could easily understand that 'coming off the mountain-top' of a retreat or conference would find a person needing to taste a bit of reality once again, while also being a great encouragement to start afresh with new eyes on your writing. Someday...
    Vicki

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  19. Wow, Hoff's words gave me chills. And your post nailed it. Thank you for those thoughts. They reflect what I have felt, too.Your new book looks fascinating!

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  20. Wow, Hoff's words gave me chills. And your post nailed it. Thank you for those thoughts. They reflect what I have felt, too.Your new book looks fascinating!

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  21. Very interesting! Thanks, Kristie tklovenestataoldotcom

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  22. Thanks to everyone who commented. The comment of Patricia Bradley has been randomly selected to win a signed copy of Medical Judgment. But come back often. There are books offered every week at this site.
    Richard Mabry

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