Yes, I am a mere 4 days back from St. Louis and the 2014 ACFW conference — and my suitcases are unpacked.
This, alone, is nigh unto a miracle. I walked off the plane in Denver and right back into a deadlines.
But along with neon green suitcases crammed full with laundry, I lugged home a heart filled to overflowing with memories.
The writing life is a strange mix of dreaming and hard work. Of being alone and being surrounded by imaginary characters who take over your mind. Of unending waiting and back-to-back deadlines.
And all of this is why writers need to make time (and yes, save money) for the annual ACFW conference.
We need to push back from our computers, get out of our chairs and:
- interact with real people. Other writers who “get” us. It’s so fulfilling to say a real “hello” to people we’ve connected with online and who’ve been nothing more than a tiny avatar on Facebook or IM. Meeting them in real life — walking, talking, eating lunch — is reason enough to go to a writers conference.
- learn how to be a better writer. When it comes to craft, I don’t know it all. Hate to break to you, but you don’t know it all either. Guess what happens if you attend the continuing classes and workshops taught by editors and agents and authors: you learn stuff that influences your writing.
- laugh and hug and stay up late. You ever feel lonely as a writer? Yeah, me too. Imaginary characters are fun, but they can’t laugh with you. They can’t hug you back. And the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis overflowed with laughter last week. People were hugging nonstop — it was almost a mandatory activity.
- be encouraged and encourage others. You’ve heard it before (you may have said it): the publishing industry is c-r-a-z-y right now. Hanging with other writers is the best way to talk out the issues, the questions, the what ifs and the what nows. There’s always a 24-hour prayer room at ACFW — a very vivid reminder that God is available to us all the time. And prayer happened everywhere during the conference: in the hallways, outside the meeting rooms, in the waiting area for appointments — as needed.
- Celebrate and celebrate some more. Attendees celebrated the little things such as someone having a good 15 minute appointment, which is actually a big thing! Friday night at the MBT Pizza Party Susan May Warren announced Jeanne Takenaka as the 2014 Frasier winner. And then Saturday night we all dressed up and celebrated lots and lots of big things: the Genesis and the Carol award winners, as well as Robin Lee Hatcher’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Celebrating one another is one of the most important things writers can do for each other.
Did you attend ACFW? What’s your WHY for attending the conference — or any other writers conference, like the upcoming MBT Storycrafters and Deep Thinkers conferences?