Five Takeaways from a Writer’s Conference

November 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

Over the weekend, I attended a writer’s conference. And then I got in a fight.

No, not with a writer. Not with an editor. It was one of those spiritual battles none of us like to talk about.

You see, there’s something about having the call to write, and then actually signing up for one of these conferences that is terrifying. Those of us who write – we have ideas. We have passion. And then to talk about them and anxiously hear how our most genius brainchild of an idea sounds to someone with the credentials to give feedback – it’s nerve-wracking. Even when it’s Christian.

So, after another up-and-down weekend (my first writer’s conference felt just like this), I made it through the conference. I am so grateful for the Heart of America Christian Writer’s Network for putting this event into play. They brought in all-star professionals to give real critiques – and real opportunities – to those of us “starving artists.” And after a long weekend, I made it through.

What did I learn? Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from the Writer’s Conference:

1. I’m called to Write.

Thanks to a great session from Sue Brage – Group Publishing on “Five Questions to Move You Forward in your Calling,” I left the conference with peace. She challenged us with questions like “Are you willing to persevere in the face of opposition?” “Are you willing to change, be stretched?” Ooh good stuff. This clued me into the idea that my anxiety about the weekend was actually a plan to derail me from what I’m called to do.

2. I need to write on this cancer stuff.

I think I realized this weekend after sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other writers that I have a unique, God-given niche. Nobody else in that room had been diagnosed with colon cancer at age 17. Shocking, right? But while this should be obvious to me, I guess I needed this conference to realize it even more. It’s OK for me to embrace my cancer and write about it. And I’ve actually got a hunch that people want to know what I have to say.

3. Linking Verbs are for Wimps.

Writer’s conferences are actually fun for me – as someone who’s been out of school for a while, yet no desire to return. These conferences are a way to brush up on my writing skills without having to go to class. So the session about writing your story and avoiding linking verbs turned out to be a great lesson for me. I felt excited. No wait – I clung to the edge of my seat as I waited for the speaker to deliver each point. (See, I learned well.) Using verbs like felt/was/had/seem/looked – out the door. Tell vs. Show. I’m learning.

4. Query Letter and Book Proposal – Can Be Done!

I’m a newbie into this whole world, and really have no idea what I’m talking about. But thanks to a couple of classes, I feel like this is actually do-able for me. Especially Deborah Herman’s class. I now understand how to write these pieces that are so critical to editors and publishers. And I feel like when I set out to write a book proposal, I know what to do (and what not to do.)

5. God attends these conferences, too.

One great feature of the HACWN conference is the opportunity to have a professional critique your work for a small fee. I reviewed the guests for the conference for about a week, and prayed about who to send my book proposal to review. Pamela Sonnenmoser stood out. She was with a publisher looking for new authors and something unique and edgy. So, I chose her. And the realized over the weekend she too has faced infertility and cancer. We speak the same language. We’ve faced some of the same things. Now that is God.

Good things are ahead for this gal who writes a blog about poop.  I have a feeling God wants to use all of this. I’m excited to follow the Lord’s promptings and use the lessons He’s taught me to save lives – both for here and eternity.

 

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