Have the right heart.
I know this post is quite removed from my earlier lessons, but it’s taken me a while to explore it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it, but as I’ve thought about it (and it’s haunted me) I feel the need to go with it.
One of the best lessons I learned at the WTP conference didn’t come from the mouths of instructors. It came from my suite mate. On the last day of the conference I was taking a nap. She made a phone call from her room. I’m sure she didn’t think anyone was next door (or that I could hear), but she spoke quite loudly. And anyone from the conference will tell you that you could hear everything between suites.
Anyway, she woke me up. Her conversation made me uncomfortable, so I dressed as quickly as I could and left my room, but not before hearing a lot of what she said.
As a first time attendee she had very few good things to say about the conference. Here are some of the issues she had:
– All of the presenters were selling their books; the conference was just a place for them to hock their wares
– People were selling their books; Christians don’t have the right to sell the Gospel
– Some attendees had been to the conference multiple times and still aren’t published; it’s obviously a bad conference because it isn’t helping these people
– It’s all about making money
I really did get up and out of the room as quickly as I could, but not before hearing this. It’s taken me a while to digest it, but I’ve drawn some conclusions about conferences and want to share them with you:
– Pray with an open heart. It made me very sad to realize someone had spent (probably) about $1,000 to go someplace and feel as if she wasted her time. Maybe a little more prayer before the event would have confirmed a suspicion to stay home or softened her heart to receive a bit more. Who knows. I just know that I’ve missed a lot of blessings from different conferences because I went in with an idea of what I wanted. Since I’ve stopped that and have left my heart open to God I’ve received blessings that I never would have guessed went hand-in-hand with different conferences.
– Make sure your hearts in the right place. If you’re JUST going to get an agent, or JUST going to find the problems with the process then I encourage you to save your money. It’s not JUST about those things. If you aren’t willing to open your heart and let God pour into you everything that He has for you at a conference, it can be a huge waste of time and money.
– Remember: YOU are the amatuer (esp. if, like me, you’re a pre-pubbed novelist). After Michael Jordan was drafted into the NBA did he stop practicing? Did he sit on his butt until the season started and then hop off the bench, ready to go? NO!!! He played year round, even when it wasn’t “game time”.
The same is (or should be) true for authors. I don’t think anyone will say that they write a novel and then don’t do anything until they start the next…we keep practicing, just as any other professional would.
– Know why you’re writing. We are not of the world, but we do live here. We cannot suspend the reality of this society just because we are Christians. Though God may call us to write, and He may even give us the story/theme, that isn’t enough to get it into the world. If you are unwilling or unable to accept that there is a right way to get published, then I encourage you to spend some more time in prayer about this.
And if you don’t believe me about this, please check with any editor or agent you can – I’ve yet to hear one say that they would publish a book simply because it was God-inpired. It may not be right, but that’s the way of the world (perhaps eternity will be different).
Okay, that’s it. And even though I spent so much time thinking about this, I still feel like I rambled (which I probably did, because I don’t really edit my posts – I tend to type-n-go). Regardless, I believe I said what I needed to say.
Have you learned any unexpected lessons from conferences? I mean, when you go to a writing conference you expect to learn how to write, but what else? Or maybe it wasn’t a writing conference at all and you learned something about writing! Feel free to share…help us all learn a bit more.