WRITE: Florida Christian Writers Conference: My Top Five Blessings
March 4-7, 2010 marked a personal milestone. As I noted earlier, I’ve taken a backwards (or at least sideways) approach to many aspects of my writing life. I became a published writer during my childhood but had a long hiatus until 2000 when I began writing, then editing for a homeschool magazine. In 2005, through an unusual avenue of grace, I transitioned into the world of CBA nonfiction books.
My surprising little secret? In spite of a longtime interest and present career as a professional writer/editor, I’d never attended a writers’ conference. I’d attended and then hosted an Intensive Writing Seminar with my friend and mentor Cec Murphey, but I’d never participated in a larger writers’ event.
Why not? I’d made more than one attempt to attend a conference, but something always stood in the way. Not long after our family moved to Florida, I was thrilled to discover a top-notch conference held at a site twenty minutes from our home. I’d planned to attend last year until a tight book deadline kept me home. This year, no matter what, I was on my way: a real writers’ conference—at last!
I’ve compiled my mini-report into a list of My Top Five Blessings from the Florida Christian Writers Conference(FCWC). Cited in reverse order, these are:
#5. Refreshment: I can’t describe the joy of coming apart from everyday surroundings to focus on the craft and business of writing. The FCWC takes place in the beautiful setting of Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center. A friend’s generous gift enabled me to spend the nights (I’d planned to commute), an incredible blessing. Writers speak about writing—the language of my heart. And when you hear your heart language, you can’t help but find refreshment.
#4. Insights: Several amazing keynoters graced the FCWC. Cec Murphey, Jesse Florea, Jerry Jenkins, and Eva Marie Everson inspired and challenged us in unique ways. All know a great deal about the art of writing—but they also know how to hold an audience’s attention. Each one provided personal insights that spoke to the specific needs of those who write—or aspire to write—for publication. They also showed us their passion for God and for communicating truth that brings him glory.
#3. Instruction: Throughout the conference, writers had the opportunity to participate in continuing classes about topics of special interest. These ranged from fiction or nonfiction mentoring to classes on screenwriting and branding. My friend Edwina and I had the privilege of learning about fiction under the tutelage of two of my longtime favorite authors, Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue, aka “Nangie.” I love to read fiction and use many of its elements in my work, but I’ve never written a novel. This class made me realize the depth and breadth of the work involved—and excited me about what lies ahead.
#2. Relationships: I’ve written before about the importance of relationships. The FCWC allowed Edwina and me to cement our friendship. It also afforded time to build relationships with fellow writers, editors, agents, and others. I met some people I’d known only through Facebook or other online connections. I had the opportunity to share meals or sit in classes with people whose names I knew but had never met. Relationships grown at the FCWC have already brought opportunities to write and speak, and I know God will continue to work through these and future connections.
#1. Divine Encounters: As the conference began, Edwina and I prayed that we would see God at every opportunity. We laughed often because he made himself so obvious! We both experienced the joy of an unexpected meeting with exactly the right person or of hearing a teaching that corresponded with a specific need. God revealed himself in the corporate worship, the quiet moments in our room, and in the intimate discussions with other conferees. I’m thankful to count Emmanuel, “God with Us” as the #1 blessing of the FCWC 2010—and I look forward to meeting him there again in 2011.