I went to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference last Friday and Saturday with low expectations – not of the conference itself, but of my actual participation in it. After all, the conference offered face-to-face meetings with editors and agents for those with books to pitch, and I am not in that category. I expected to go to the workshops, learn a few things that mostly applied to real writers, and sit in the back of the room, comfortable in my usual, under-the-radar role. Things didn’t quite turn out that way.
I had made a few new friends prior to the conference because of a volunteer opportunity I had been given to assist in producing The Christian Writer’s Coach. And as a result of my participation in that effort, I was invited to provide a grammar tip handout sheet for the conference which included my bio and my website and blog addresses. So, I really didn’t begin by being “under-the-radar,” especially for a grammar nerd like me. My handout was titled, Grammar: Rules to Keep, Rules to Break. I am so edgy.
As the conference progressed, I found that my initial expectations were entirely inadequate. From super-practical advice on data coordination via Evernote, to the challenges of writing historical fiction, every workshop I attended was specifically relevant to my experience. Duh. Particularly enlightening was advice on what to do about the voices of the harpies in my subconscious that tempt me to automatically classify myself as an observer only and to use the term real writers when referring to someone else and not myself. Ah-ha! Get thee behind me, harpy.
I was also fortunate enough to make personal connections with four talented individuals – two in the freelance copy editing biz and two authors who prompted me in new directions for my specific writing topics. Every connection I made at the conference, via workshop or conversation over a meal, coalesced to help me identify and refine what I should be and do in the future, and how to go about it. I’m sure my experience was not unusual among those who attended; I just didn’t realize the potential going in. Silly me.
“Write what you know. Write what you want to know more about. Write what you’re afraid to write about.” ~Cec Murphey