Saturday, September 09, 2006

Every year, come September, I pack my bags and head to one of the best writer’s conferences in Christian fiction—the annual American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference. I'm pictured above with two of my critique partners at last year's conference in Nashville. With so many conferences to choose from, why did I pick this one? It’s simple. The fellowship!

God really knew what He was doing when He pointed me toward my first ever conference, held four years ago in Houston. I’d have been overwhelmed if my first ever experience took place at Mt. Hermon, or some huge gathering like that. Instead, my first conference consisted of about 150 attendees, including staff, a few editors, and agents. I learned the ropes alongside other newbies, in the ease and assurance of a handful of bright writers with a penchant for encouraging others. It was there that I learned the value of networking, and the necessity of honing my craft. To state it plainly, I learned how much I didn’t know.

The ACFW conference has grown somewhat. At last count, over three hundred writers, publishers, and agents had signed up to attend. On top of that, I will, for the first time, be attending as a published author.


If the point of going to a conference is to get published, then why am I going? Simply because my biggest discovery at last year’s conference, held in Nashville, was not which house was acquiring, or which agents were accepting clients. My biggest discovery was how important the passage to publication could be.

“Don’t be so focused on the goal,” our keynote said, “that you miss the journey along the way.”

That’s my paraphrased version. Forgive me if I didn’t get it exactly right. Regardless, I suddenly understood that the importance of the ACFW conference was not the meetings, appointments, classes, or contacts. The importance was in the journey, in all the little things God would teach me along the way. The conference has taught me how to reach out to other writers. It has taught me to strive for my dreams, and not fear the failures. I’ve learned to share in the triumphs of others, and witnessed firsthand that I am not alone in my heartaches.

In a nutshell, there is much to be learned at the ACFW conference in Dallas. I’ll attend the classes, and meet with editors. I’ll pitch, and propose, exchange business cards, and stay up late chatting. I’ll meet new people and learn how the business has changed in a year.

But it’ll have nothing whatsoever to do with a contract.


Ane Mulligan said...

And another of your critique partenrs can't wait to get their, too! You're right, Lisa, the journey is so wonderful. The hard work comes after you get published. LOL

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