Wanda Dyson is a multipublished
suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one
attempt at a nonfiction book was picked up for an exclusive release on
Oprah. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment
coordinator for the CCWC, Greater
Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW
I just returned from the Annual Germanna Conference in Culpeper, Virginia. Over 300 people attended, and all of us are direct descendants of the German immigrants who came here in 1717, who cleared the land, planted crops, built homes, and established Madison, Virginia. I stood there in that crowd of people and found myself checking nametags—because, you see, the names of our ancestors were on those nametags, and it was fascinating to find so many people that I was related to all in one place.
We may have shared a great-great-great-great-grandfather or -grandmother or a great-great-great-uncle or -aunt. I didn’t know any of these people, yet the same blood ran in my veins that ran in theirs. We walked in the same paths our ancestors walked, talked about their journeys, their hardships, their accomplishments, and realized, we were a part of all that they created. We stood in the new memorial gardens and dedicated the monuments raised to honor these incredible people—German Lutherans persecuted for their faith, sacrificing everything to build a new life in a new country, hijacked at sea, and sold into slavery, but they persevered, prospered, and left a legacy of faith behind.
Driving home, I couldn’t help but compare the conference with the many writer’s conferences I’ve attended. Then something struck me. While this gathering may not have been as organized as a writer’s conference, it had something just as important: people gathered together to share a legacy of faith. And that’s the most important thing about a writer’s conference. We can easily get sidetracked by deadlines and contracts and the pursuit of financial security, but it’s really all about the One we’re writing for.
Our ancestors were willing to sacrifice everything to honor Him. What are we sacrificing to honor Him with our writing? Do we come to the conference expecting everything to go our way? How do we react when we are hijacked by God, sent in a different direction, unable to meet with the editor or agent we were counting on? Do we honor Him by trusting that He has all in control? Or do we rant and rave against the circumstances that kept us from that appointment, or made us late for a class, or blinded an editor to how great our writing is? What legacy of faith is our writing leaving behind us? Are we strutting around, thinking more of ourselves than we ought, or are we reaching out to one another, realizing that we are all brothers and sisters and our Father does not raise one above the other?
We may not know one another, but when you look at a name badge and see an unfamiliar name, remember that the same blood that saved your life saved theirs. Remember that they have the same Father you have. And don’t be afraid to reach out and hold that person’s hand as we do our part in leaving a legacy of faith.
I couldn’t stay for the entire Germanna conference. I have the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s coming up in August and then the ACFW Annual Conference in September, so appointment forms are piling up on my desk, editors are e-mailing me with their schedules, and conferees are e-mailing me with a ton of questions. And most of them will be answered like this: Don’t sweat it. Father has your writing career in the palm of His hand, and He is ever faithful to keep that which is entrusted to Him. He kept those Germanna immigrants safe and prospered them in spite of the incredible odds against them. How much more will He prosper the words you write to honor Him?
MAINE FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN WRITERS SEMINAR: Belfast, ME, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 1–7: THE GLEN WORKSHOP: Santa Fe, NM, 200 expected to attend, email@example.com, www.imagejournal.org/page/events/the-glen-workshop
August 7: TEXAS CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE: Houston, TX, 80 expected to attend, firstname.lastname@example.org (editors and agents in attendance)
September: MCC CHRISTIAN WRITERS’ SEMINAR; Joppa, MD; Vcolclasure@clearviewcatv.net
September: CATCH THE WAVE WRITERS CONFERENCE; Woodstock, GA; www.christianauthorsguild.org
September (18?): SILOAM SPRINGS WRITERS’ WORKSHOP; Siloam Springs, AR, 30 expected to attend; 479-524-6598
October: UPSTATE SC ACW FALL WORKSHOP; Anderson, SC, 75 expected to attend; Elvamartinministries@charter.net
October 9: NORTHWEST OHIO CHRISTIAN WRITERS’ CONFERENCE; Toledo, OH, 50 expected to attend; Mlka@toast.net
October (late): EARLHAM SCHOOL OF RELIGION/MINISTRY OF WRITING COLLOQUIUM; Richmond, IN, 100–200 expected to attend; email@example.com