I’m on an adventure of a different kind this week—I’m at the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference. I wasn’t even sure if I’d attend this year’s conference and waited until the last moment to register, but I’m so glad I did. These past couple days I’ve connected with old friends and made new ones. I’ve soaked in the teachings of authors, agents, editors and publishers. And I’ve lived, eaten and breathed the world of writers and writing. It’s a little corner of heaven.
Since I didn’t go to the conference with specific goals or plans, I’ve been free to survey the workshop offerings on the landscape. I’ve explored persuasive writing, justice and advocacy, building platforms, crafting book proposals and writing for teenagers. Each path has revealed new ways I might use my words. New ways I might minister. New ways I might grow…and help others too as well.
Two years ago this conference jumpstarted my writing journey. It’s gratifying to see how my writing’s developed, my knowledge has increased and my writing relationships have expanded since then (especially including my membership in a wonderful writing critique group, nine of whom are at the conference, Hey, Hawk Point ladies!)
Many of my colleagues came to the conference laden with book proposals and manuscripts, hoping to find a home for the words they’d so gruelingly birthed. Labors of love neatly bound for presentation. The hallways are abuzz with reports from appointments with editors and publishers. Some see doors opening, “He asked for my entire manuscript.” Others fear they’re closing, “If I talk about it I’m going to start to cry again.”
We writers pour our hearts, our spirits, our whole selves into our writing. Our words are a part of us. It’s hard to separate rejection of our words from rejection of ourselves. (Or vice verse.) But the publishing business is Darwinian. Only the fittest…best-written…and most marketable will survive. Not because publishers and agents are cruel people (they’re actually quite nice), but because writing for publication is a business.
This journey is not for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. My heart aches for my fellow writers who are on the emotional, rollercoaster of a ride toward publication. Some are going to bed tonight affirmed and excited about the future. Others want to quit and go home. I pray that regardless of the feedback each of us receives this week, we maintain teachable hearts, we learn and grow, and we see God in this experience.
I especially pray that each of us writers recognizes that whether our words reach tens of readers, thousands or millions—we are writers nonetheless who have been given a holy gift. And more than that we’re children of God. And no negative (or positive) critique can change our true identity.
Nicki, I’m praying for you especially!