This past weekend I attended the Breathe writers Conference in Grand Haven, MI. In my last post I wrote about how nervous I was to attend. Then I lost my voice on Thursday night & foolishly thought that it would get better by the morning & that I’d be able to minimally talk at the conference to preserve my voice. For those of you that know me, I’m sure you read that last line and laughed out loud, the idea of me minimally talking is about as likely as Obama deciding to have a pool with a water slide and tiki bar installed on the south lawn with the Nobel Peace prize money he just won.
Though it was really hard to minimize my talking I did meet some great people were wonderful to connect with and we’re now talking about starting a writers group together! Here are some of the things I took away from the conference.
- Rejection is part of the writing experience. If I’m going to write, I just need to suck it up and deal with it. Cecil Murphey
was the keynote speaker & as a seasoned writer of books like 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands he shared about how much rejection he’s received during his 25 years in the writing business but also how God has encouraged him to keep going. It was heartening to hear from him and to know that the fear of rejection never really goes away no matter how accomplished you may be as a writer.
- Pick a place, any place. Many of the writers shared stories about how they muscled through and wrote their books in places like spidery basements, on the ride to their son’s hockey games, sitting at their kitchen table or staring out the window watching kids play after returning home from school. Some people did share about the beautiful space they created for their writing time, but I think everyone was encouraged by the people who were able to get Jedi and focus in on the writing regardless of what their surroundings were like. This helped to hear because I don’t think I’ll have my fantasy writers home overlooking the waves of Lake Michigan anytime soon 🙂
- God is with me and is able to direct me. I don’t know why I was continually surprised to hear each writer share about their times of communication with God in the midst of writing. Or to hear how God has helped each one of them to embrace who he has created them to be as they are faithful to use their writing gifts. Though I am always encouraging others to think holistically about their faith, for some reason this weekend felt like “duh, God is with me ALWAYS! in every area of life! Why would he not be present in the midst of writing, creative ideas and my fears about sharing what I’ve written!”
- Solitude and Community are necessary. In many of the sessions, writers share about the need to protect what you’ve written until you have the inner nudge that it’s time to share it with others. Cecil shared about how our inner critic can actually be a good thing when we’re in solitude because it helps us to self-reflect on what we’re afraid of in being vulnerable. All of the writers shared about their growth, challenge and encouragement being in writers groups over the years. My “sneaky prayer” going into the conference was that God would connect me with people who I could begin one of these groups with. I am really thankful he answered even this prayer that I didn’t pray!
I feel much more equipped to begin seriously pursuing writing with some of the key things I learned this weekend. It’s making me look forward to my sabbatical even more now that I’ll have space to get to work on the ideas I have. Thanks again to Lorilee who made it possible for me to go! Here is the latest idea that seems like a crazy dream- a historical fiction novel on St. Patrick. His story fascinates me & I’d love to research it more and to take a trip to visit the places he traveled.