Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why I'm Happy I'm Not at Conference

When I started on this writing journey two years ago, Doc Hensley encouraged me to join ACFW not only to network and meet other writers, but because the national conference would take place in Indy this year. I enthusiastically joined and have gleaned so much knowledge on writing, the publishing industry, and  myself. I've also met many of you and I am so thankful for such a godly, giving, and talented group.

As winter turned to spring, it was  time to decide whether or not I would attend conference. My reasons were many for not going, but I kept coming back to the fact that it didn't make sense not to go if I could swing it. So I stewed. I prayed. I discussed it with writer friends. I read the loop posts. I caught the vision as excitement built. I felt the pressure of missing out on something big if I decided not to go. I wondered, why wouldn't God want me to go? Yet, if the decision were that simple, why didn't I have peace about it?

Then one day while mowing the yard, it all came into focus. Most of the writing I'd done (and any writing I'd gotten paid for) was non-fiction. Devotions, narrative non-fiction, journalism were not only what I wrote, but all of it had a spiritual element, even if written for secular media. I felt strangely confident that God wanted me to do the unthinkable--to say no to the ACFW conference and instead attend a secular workshop I attended last year, where I could study both Christian fiction (Ann Tatlock would be teaching), mainstream fiction,  and non-fiction. As I filled out the paperwork, a calm descended that I hadn't felt during the whole decision-making process.

The weekend of the conference arrived and not only did God bless me with a wonderful learning experience, incredible networking opportunities, and so much good information, but He confirmed for me in two ways that I had indeed heard Him correctly.

The first came when I'd been on site for under thirty minutes. I chatted with my seat-mate, a fellow ACFW-er whom I recognized and she nearly word-for-word confirmed my reasons for making the decision to go to that conference rather than the one in Indy. Later during the first break, another ACFW member made her way over because she recognized my name from this blog. Not having heard my previous conversation, she said nearly the same thing and added some further encouragement that this was probably the best choice for my career at this time.

God also confirmed to me throughout the weekend that I was in the correct place when my short list of questions I've prayed through for the last two years were answered one by one. I don't have GPS directions for my career, but I now know several things I don't want to do or that don't fit my writing style, personality, or voice. He also made clear to me some of my writing passions and strengths.

As a cherry on the top of my confirmation sundae, God blessed me with a win at a just-for-fun contest on the last day of the conference. Just further proof to me that He continues to lead and could use a secular writers' workshop to take me a little further down my writing road.

God's words to us in Jeremiah 29:11 according to the Message read " I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." God reminded me to resist the urge to think I know His mind. If I had done what "made sense" I'd have missed some tremendous blessings along with some freelance work that I could not have finished while attending the conference. For those of you at the conference this weekend, I pray God confirms the plans He has for you being there. And for those of you at home, I pray He reveals the blessings He has for you in staying behind. I pray my time at conference will come eventually, but for now, I know I'm right where He wants me.


  1. In the spirit of ACFW~~we write for Him and we listen for his nudgings.

    Wonderful post. I hope to meet you at an ACFW Indiana meeting sometime

    ACFW Membership Officer

  2. As a non attender this year, I struggled with the same issues. I was disappointed at first, but felt confirmed when I attended the MWW summer conference. Needing to focus more on "the next thing", caused me to say no to the conference. There is a tinge of regret of course, but peace in the choice.