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’m in the middle of organizing the appointments for two conferences: Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in August and the ACFW Conference in September. The appointment request forms are coming in hot and heavy, and two prevailing sentiments are coming in with them. One is excitement—attendees can’t wait for the conference to start. The other is trepidation—first-time attendees don’t know what to expect.
I love newbies. They haven’t been beaten down by the time and hard work it takes to persevere in this industry, so they have enthusiasm, high hopes, and, dare I say it, unrealistic expectations. They’re eager to meet with a particular editor or agent because they just know that person is the key to a contract and of course that contract is just days or weeks away.
Those of us who have been in this industry any length of time smile, nod, and walk away knowing that their disappointment will either weed them out or stiffen their spines.
Writing isn’t a career for the weak of heart, that’s for sure. But the best place to be for the encouragement, support, prayer, and fellowship you need to persevere is at a writer’s conference. Who else but other writers could possibly understand where you are coming from? What you’re trying to accomplish? How is feels to face rejection day after day, month after month, even (gasp) year after year?
Each conference brings in top-notch teachers to help you improve and polish your craft, from writing a proposal to fine-tuning your characters to smoothing out your plot to developing a plot twist that will create a buzz about your book. When you attend a writer’s conference, take as many classes as you can. Oh, I’ve heard some complain that there was so much to do they had no time to rest. As my grandfather used to say, “You can rest when you’re dead.” Well, let’s just say, you can rest when you get back home. You will have only a couple of days to pack in as much learning as you can, so get as much as you can out of the conference. Mix and mingle with your fellow writers in the evenings. Drag yourself up out of bed early and join them for worship. I know. Most of us writers are loners. We prefer to hide in our caves writing. But if you have to take a crowbar with you to pry you out of your solitude, do it. You’ll be richly blessed for it.
Most conferences arrange it so that you can sit at the same meal table with editors, agents, and teachers. Take advantage of that opportunity. You may have absolutely nothing to pitch to that person hosting the table, but just sitting there quietly, eating your meal, and listening to the conversation around you can be a learning experience.
So go, meet, eat, and learn. You will come home tired, refreshed, excited, renewed, and ready to write.
OREGON CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE: Portland, OR, area, 250 expected to attend, www.oregonchristianwriters.org
July 30–August 1: SHE SPEAKS CONFERENCE: Concord, NC, 450 expected to attend, office@Proverbs31.org, www.SheSpeaksConference.com
MAINE FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN WRITERS SEMINAR: Belfast, ME, email@example.com
August 1–7: THE GLEN WORKSHOP: Santa Fe, NM, 200 expected to attend, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.imagejournal.org/page/events/the-glen-workshop
August 7: TEXAS CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE: Houston, TX, 80 expected to attend, email@example.com (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