Today, as part of the American Christian Fiction Writers' Conference Blog Tour, I'm blogging about conference stuff.
I've gone to several ACFW conferences and have come back from all of them changed. I thought I was going to a writers' conference...but God tricked me. He brought me there for a spiritual overhaul as well. I have always come home from the conferences knowing God better, and having more clear direction for my spiritual life, and for my writing.
The first year I went, I went with my own agenda. I spent all that money to go, so I thought I needed to attend every single minute of every workshop. I wanted to meet with as many industry professionals as possible and pitch my stuff to them. I didn't leave God a lot of room in my schedule to work His appointments in. My appointments went horrid. I left most of them crying. LOL!
So at the end of the second day, I knew something was wrong. My brain felt like a soppy sponge that couldn't possibly hold one more drop of writing craft information. A natural introvert, my body felt battered by sensory overload.
I found the prayer room and honestly sought God. In the midst of Him loving on me with a strong sense of His presence, I felt Him ask: Now, are you willing to stop striving and to give up your own agenda for mine?
Oh. Duh. No brainer there. :-)
When I left that prayer room, things changed. God literally ran me into people and people into me who later had profound impacts on my writing career and keeping my heart right during the process.
The best advice I can give? Is what I've been given by others:
1. Go praying like breathing.
2. Go with a heart to serve others.
3. Give God room to work. (meaning don't fill all of your minutes with activity.)
4. Expect God to work in you, and not just about writing. Expect to meet Him there.
My first conference was "all about me."
Every conference since has been "all about Him and others." I refuse to have my own agenda. I volunteer heavily. I pray for as many people as I can get my hands on. I interceed for the hotel staff, conference staff, editors, and agents, authors and newcomers. I perform random acts of kindness that only God and I know about.
I've come away from them with more requests than I could count, a first place Noble Theme award, a first place Genesis award, and some of my closest friendships that have deepened to this day. I got to be immersed in worship of my King, and received profound direction for my writing. I've met industry professionals who've influenced and grown my faith as much as my writing. I go with a heart to serve and love it. I am changed and humbled by it.
Last year's conference was really hard on me. God totally flipped things around. I was in a wheelchair following a major surgery due to a medical misdiagnosis. I had to be served. Believe me, I'd rather be put in a position to serve! It's HARD needing help. I HATE having to depend on others. But God used that time to cause me to have to depend on Him and others to chip away at another sort of pride. The self-sufficiency kind. Every year I have received promises from God at the conference that have shaped my life.
Last year, on the drive to Dallas, I felt like God told me (about my hard season of pain, surgery, two years of intense physical therapy) "You've been faithful, and you're on the verge of a new season. You've been through a blistering cold winter and it nearly took you out, but you remained faithful even when you didn't feel faithful. Now, watch the new thing spring forth. Winter is past. Spring is coming."
Imagine my surprise when I get to the conference and realize the scripture theme is Isaiah 43: 18-19 "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." NAS BIBLE.
Days after coming back from that conference, I received a book contract with Steeple Hill...the publisher of my heart.
So I would add to the advice above:
Go seeking Him. Come back with His promises. Go with a heart to worship. Be ready to come back transformed.
Ask Him what He wants for you at the conference, and for your writing. Then sit back and let Him work and lead you.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today!
Here are some fun pics (in following posts) from years' past.
Cheryl Wyatt Gal. 2:20 Pouring my vial of words over Him.
A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Mar. 2008
Click on the conference link. I tried to add it, but Blogger's being a bugger.
Hope to see you there, September 20-23, 2007 in Dallas, TX.