A few days ago I did something I wasn’t sure I could do, for a variety of reasons: I registered to attend the Orange County Christian Writers Conference in April.
My friend and writing mentor, Aaron Gansky, is a featured speaker and while I always value the information he gives, there are several other sessions I’m looking forward to being a part of.
This will be the second writers conference I’ve attended. Ever. This one is different from the first one I attended last November. That one was local, and there were three consecutive sessions in the same auditorium. I knew almost everyone, because it was sponsored by my Writers Club. This one requires a little drive time, there are many short sessions to choose from, and aside from Aaron and hopefully my friend Beckie, I won’t know anyone.
Thankfully, it was easy to choose my sessions based on my experience as a writer, and my needs to grow my network. I’m choosing to focus on what will help me finish NOLA and market it as well.
And now that the fun stuff has been announced, let’s get real.
It’s intimidating to register for a writers conference. At least, it is for me. I have so many unknowns.
- What if I’m not a good enough writer to be there?
- What if I can’t focus and forget all the information?
- What if everyone else really has a game plan for their writing, and laugh because I don’t?
- What if I share my idea for my novels and learn they’re not that great?
- What if the weather is bad for the drive?
- What if it’s like high school and people are clique-ish and I’m left out?
- What if I get star-struck and instead of being intelligent I stumble and mumble my way through meetings and greetings?
- What if I spill coffee on myself and don’t bring an extra sweater to cover it up?
These are all real concerns I have.
But the one I didn’t know I had, came to light after I registered. I have been nagged with the internal question
What if I’m not good enough?
That is, not that I’m not a good enough writer. I believe I’m a good writer on my way to being a great writer.
But, what if I’m not a good enough person? What makes it okay for someone like me to attend a Christian writers conference?
Sure, I write a lot about God and trusting His plan for our lives. I live a Faith-based life. But I’m no Saint. I’m no hero. And on not-so-good days, I can be downright bad and ugly. So what makes it okay for me to attend a Christian writers conference?
The same thing that makes it okay for me to be a writer. I don’t know everything. But what I do know, I can share. I’m not Chef Bobby Flay, but I like to cook, so I share recipes. I’m not a veterinarian, but I can write about my cats. I don’t own a landscape company or live in a mansion, but I can still blog about how to keep a nice house with decorating and fix-it tips.
So what makes it okay for me to attend a Christian writers conference? I had to wrap my head around it. I would have no problem supporting anyone else who wants to go, and if they voiced these same concerns, I’d tell them
Stop. Listen to yourself. No. Don’t. Listen to God. He brought you here for a reason. You know He did. And He has a plan for you, for your writing. Nobody’s perfect and I’m not asking you be. Did you screw up something yesterday? I did, too. I always do. It’s human nature. But you know what? God forgives you. He forgave you, and He keeps forgiving you. So get out of the dark hole you created, see the Sonshine, and do what He’s calling you to do. Be a writer. You don’t have to prosthelytize all the time. It’s okay to write mysteries and fantasy. Just write. Just use the talents He gave you, and do it! Get to the conference. Meet other imperfect people who will help you hone your imperfections into great storytelling. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.
That’s what I would tell someone else. So that’s what I’m telling me. I’m not perfect, and I’m not a Bible thumper. But I am a Christian.
So I’m giving myself permission to attend a Christian writers conference.
Now here’s the neat part. Once I decided to go (after a few nudges from Beckie and Aaron), my first thought was “I can’t afford this.” Beckie and I looked at the registration schedule. We can’t go Friday night, so we would just carpool together for the Saturday sessions. It’s $135 for the day. There’s a 10% discount code available, so my cost would drop to $121.50. Not too bad when you consider everything that’s included. But it’s still more than what I want to shell out right now, especially since I’m intent on getting to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina in May.
Feeling somewhat apprehensive and pre-defeated, I asked them to pray with me for direction on this. That was Saturday night.
On Tuesday morning, I received a phone message from my insurance company. They finally received full restitution from the at-fault party for an accident I was in nearly five years ago. At that time, my insurance company took care of my vehicle replacement, my medical bills, and my settlement. But because I had to go through my own policy, I wasn’t able to collect my $500 deductible. Two years later, they received a large, albeit incomplete sum, and mailed me a check for a partial amount.
As of last week, they received the final payment, and issued me a payment for the balance of my deductible.
The conference would cost me $121.50.
The insurance payment is $121.43.
How on earth am I going to find seven pennies? I’m pretty sure God is asking me to trust Him.
And that’s how I know it’s okay for me to attend a Christian writers conference.
And Frankly, my dear . . . that’s all she wrote!