“You get to have lunch with agents and editors.” I read this somewhere before attending my first American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in September 2011.
My insecure mind immediately pictured a high school cafeteria full of long rectangular tables and hundreds of uncomfortable plastic chairs – you know, the kind with the long, unwieldy legs ripe for tripping green writers just like me? Of course the nightmare wasn’t complete until I envisioned balancing a tray of self-served food along with my large bag full of writing gear and workshop handouts as I clumsily made my way to an empty seat, only to be told it was being saved for someone else.
That was my fear–that I would make a fool of myself, that I wasn’t ready to attend a huge writing conference. Not yet anyway. I still had too much to learn. What if someone said something writing related and I had no idea what they were talking about? Or what if I was asked a question and I had no intelligible answer?
People, fear is an ugly little word that was never supposed to be in our vocabulary. (Yes, this is something I have to tell myself all the time.) God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity (2 Timothy 1:7) but many of us suffer from silent doubts and fears about our worthiness, our writing ability, our social acumen. Our lists can go on and on.
However, the truth is much more satisfying.
There is no cafeteria! Instead, picture a banquet hall full of round tables covered with white tablecloths. As you relax into the many soft-cushioned chairs, a waiter comes by and serves you, on your right-hand side, of course, a leafy green salad with raspberry vinaigrette followed by a delightfully arranged entree and dessert. Your water goblet is never empty and there’s always a friendly writer next to you that you get to meet.
That was the reality, the truth.
Sure, my experience at my first ACFW conference held a few uncomfortable moments for me but most of my time was spent meeting new people and learning new things.
Some of my favorite moments were:
What a wealth of topics to choose from and talented people that give their time teaching other writers. I would go again just for the classes. I wish they would take out a few of the breaks and squeeze in more workshops. Invaluable!
There was a moment at one of the worship sessions when I looked around the room as we sang Great is Thy Faithfulness and saw a sea of raised hands worshipping the King of Kings. It took my breath away and I thought to myself, “This is what it’s all about!”
The networking opportunities.
Yes! You really do have lunch with some agents and editors. You really do pass them in the halls. You really can strike up a conversation and get to know them. You really will bump into them in the elevators and in the bar and in the lobby at the end of the day. Not to mention all the other writers you have the chance to meet and talk with.
ACFW guarantees every registrant one appointment with either an agent or an editor. Depending on how early you register and the number of other attendees, sometimes you may get two. God gave me FIVE! I was so dumbfounded I went and double checked to see if they made a mistake on my schedule. The thing is, God has His hand on every detail and every meeting. And sometimes He just wants to bless your socks off!
My husband says to me all the time, “Stop worrying about all that other stuff and just write your book!” Good advice, huh?
After all, God gave us a spirit of power and love and self-discipline – not of fear!