Writer’s Conference Series, Part 1
The most exciting moments of a writer’s conference is the appointments. A month before attending a long-awaited conference, I submitted a list of the top ten people I would like to meet.
I spent the week leading up to the conference preparing a proposal and practicing my “elevator pitch,” even though I knew if I had fifteen seconds to convince someone of anything, the only thing they’d remain convinced of would be my inability to speak coherently.
On the first day of the conference, I received my schedule of appointments. The fifteen-minute slots that would take place during workshops or other sessions. Two of my appointments were with authors; three with agents. I looked up the names of the agents to make sure I knew what their agency represented. I looked up the authors to figure out what I could talk with them about. I was ready.
The appointments took place in a large auditorium. Authors, editors, and agents sat here and there, names written on a folder placed on the seat next to them. I arrived a few minutes early for my first appointment. I stood a distance away, browsing a table of books for sale, slowly flipping through the pages. I finished the table, glanced at my phone for the time, checked to see if the previous appointment was over yet. It wasn’t. I moved on to the next table.
Five minutes passed. Ten. The agent and conferee continued chatting. I glanced at my phone again. I had three minutes left. The person stood. They shook hands. The person walked down the steps, and someone else walked up. My appointment had been squeezed out!
Whoa. How did that happen?
But it was okay. I had appointments remaining. I realized that I needed to cancel one appointment, as the workshop during that time slot was important to me. Three to go.
I met with an agent, who requested that I send my proposal. No promises, but better than nothing. Two to go.
That afternoon, I attended a workshop given by the senior editor of a large publishing house. The advice he gave and stories he shared seemed directly for me. I decided I should try to get an appointment with him. I headed to the appointment desk and heard the lady in charge telling this same editor that he had an appointment canceled. He nodded and left the room; I made a beeline for the appointment desk. It’s a God thing, I told myself. I now had an appointment with an editor who could make my publication dream come true!
The next morning, I had two appointments. Remember that first appointment? Waiting awkwardly, browsing books, glancing over at the conferee and agent talking, glancing at the time on my phone. Watching as my fifteen minutes were swallowed up. It happened again … twice!
But it was okay, because I was meeting the editor of a publishing house on my “most wanted” list. Everything would turn out. Those disappointments were tests. I had passed them, right? I hadn’t thrown a fit or pouted.
Five minutes before appointment time, I entered the auditorium. The editor was speaking to another conferee. I waited near that table of books I knew so well by then. The conferee rose. On time! I breathed a sigh of relief and put down the book. Then the editor stood up. He walked down the steps and left the room. He just needs to use the restroom or get water. He’ll be back. I waited five minutes. Ten. Thirteen. He didn’t return.
He didn’t return!
I pictured the book I had been writing, and then perfecting, for three years. I knew … I know … that it is good. But I did not have the opportunity to get in a word. Never mind an elevator pitch; I would have settled for a single breath to get across my book’s concept. But I didn’t have it. The conference ended.
Did I do something wrong? Is there hidden evil in my heart? A blockage to good things? Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a writer. Maybe I’ve been kidding myself all along. Is this still a test? All these questions, and more, filtered their way through my muddled mind in the days following the conference.
And I haven’t discovered the answers yet. Okay, so it’s only been two weeks since the conference ended. A few things have become a little clearer. Others are still murky. Ultimately, I have two options: keep writing, or stop writing. Which means I really have only one option.
Keep writing. Through disappointments. Through questions. Through self-doubt.
The answers will come in time. .
I came across something as I read this morning:
“Waiting is not simply another religious activity to be added to the rest. … Waiting is more than physical silence. It is a movement of the heart, a stance we take before God. Waiting is an inner acquiescence, releasing our striving and abandoning our lives entirely to the work of God. Quieting our whole selves, we surrender our activity, our plans, and our dreams. When we wait, we yield up our expectations of what God should do … Waiting is totally submitting to God and inviting God to move in our hearts with complete freedom.”
God, help me wait. Move in my heart with complete freedom, which only comes through full surrender. Inspire me to continue writing, blessed with the knowledge that writing is its own reward. Its own gift. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from You. Help me remember the purpose for which I write. Let me write to lift up the cross. If that is all I do, even to bring one person to the cleansing grace of the Savior, it is enough.