I made it! I had a tremendous, amazing time at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference and I’m here to tell you about it. Except I’m not sure what to say–I’m still processing everything that went on, all the wonderful people I met, and the next steps to take with my novel-in-progress, Marty’s Kid.
First, thank you so much for all your prayers. Although it dumped nearly three feet of snow in the three days we were there, thankfully my family decided to get a lodge instead of RV and tent camping. I’ve never seen so much snow! After the first day, I was hiking a half mile down to the conference center because the car was completely buried.
Notice the progression from no snow to blizzard to buried! (Behind the RV is our little blue Yaris–did you spot it?)
As for the conference itself… Here was the progression of my emotions. Day 1, after a class with a bestselling author who told us things like never use “he/she said” in your writing and never ever use a semicolon or parentheses–I felt confusion. Didn’t I just read a bestseller that broke those rules? Who’s to say what’s what when it comes to writing–the next professional I ask says something completely different about the same subject! How do I know who to listen to?
Day 2, after I met with my first agent for a critique of my work, and besides pointing out a bunch of flaws and inaccuracies in my first several pages (kids don’t say ‘bummer’, kids don’t ask a girl out), he told me in so many words that there was no market for my book–I felt…despair. Is that too strong of a word? After seeing your careful work of eight months come crashing down on your head? As much as I told myself I was being sensitive and childish, I still took it hard. Thankfully not in front of the agent. I hiked up to my cabin and had a pity party for myself.
Day 3. I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to pitch my book to another agent, I didn’t even want to look at my book. (Even with that awesome kid on the front, I know.) So I gave it to God. I said, God, this book is yours anyway, I wrote it for you, and if you want me to pitch it (in the trash), I guess that’s fine. And I think I’m all done being a writer, but if you say keep writing, I will. It’s all about you, Jesus.
You know what? I watched God give that book back to me. During the next 8 hours. I met with an award-winning author–he encouraged me, gave me ideas for how to get my book to the market, and told me I had wisdom (I was thinking, I don’t know what I just said, but if it was wisdom it was God talking, not me). I met with an editor for another critique, and like a polar opposite of the first guy, she pretty much only had good things to say about my work. And then, because of an error only God could have arranged, I met with an acquisitions editor for a small publishing house, who seemed interested almost before I started talking, and twenty minutes later was telling me, “Get the book to where you want it and send me your proposal.” I couldn’t believe it! Besides that, there were so many wonderful people I met, and people who encouraged me, and little things God did for me–it was like he was saying, what are you despairing about? I’m still in control here.
And he is. As I sort out numerous things I learned, advice people gave me (which usually conflicted with someone else’s advice!), and the plan for where to take the book next, I keep going back to God. Begging him for wisdom. For the next step. And in regards to both me and Marty’s Kid, I think of one of my favorite poems, by Langston Hughes.
I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,
Looks like between ’em they done
Tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!