Listen, I know what it’s like to feel lost, alone, stupid, clumsy, and like an outsider at a conference. In 2002, I attended the first ACFW conference and I felt completely on the outside. I left saying I’d never go to another conference again.
Ha! I was the Vice President of ACFW and conference coordinator two weeks later and heading the charge to Houston 2003.
But 11 years later, I still have moments when I feel like the third wheel, or the unwanted step child. I think my agent or my editor doesn’t want to talk to me. Or, that my friends are busy with other friends. I lose a contest. No one likes the worship songs I picked.
(Here I am with the fab Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck and Colleen Coble!)
It’s always something. But really? It’s nothing! The conference is worth all those momentary feelings of “being left out.”
Look, if I can feel left out — an advisor, teacher, mentor, worship leader, published author who’s attended every ACFW conference — then surely you can brave a moment or two of feeling the same. Right?
I tell you all of this to let you know you’re not alone. Come to the conference. I can guarantee you there will be folks to love on you, put an arm around you, pray with you. At the very least, you come to the worship sets and connect with the One who loves you more than His own life and get your attitude and perspective straightened.
(with Cheryl Hodde of Hannah Alexander!)
Chin up now. Attitude toward the Lord. Hearts open to give and receive. Here’s what you will get from the conference:
1. Excellent teaching.
2. Excellent accommodations.
3. Sparkling and inspiring keynote address.
4. Worship with 500 brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. St. Louis! Me me there!
6. My Book Therapy Pizza Party.
7. Connecting with old and new friends.
8. Meeting editors and agents, those who can help guild you along your publishing journey.
9. Four of the most frenetic days you’ll be glad to go home to the hubby/wife, wild banshee kids and barking dogs. Two days later you’ll miss the conference so bad you’ll ache!
10. Investing in your dream to be a published author is the first right step you’ll take!
I’m glad the Lord had other things in mind for me than quitting the conference in 2002. What joy I would’ve missed if I’d let my fears keep me back.
In all my conference years, I didn’t know what I’m doing half the time. I botched more editor and agent appointments than I care to consider. I missed workshops. I offended people. I got offended. Come on, we’re people.
But I go every year with the core value: to love others and seek to esteem them higher than myself. With that as my main goal, the conference becomes easy. It’s not about me! Sigh of relief.
Surely you can join me with the same high calling? Let the Lord see to our careers, our writing destination. He’s good at handling those things.
Conference is too easy to get discouraged if our eyes are on ourselves. Someone else seems to be so favored while you feel like a log of knotted pine.
At one conference, I’ll never forget the reaction of one author when her editor appointment produced the words, “your work is incredible.”
I can still see the author smiling from ear to ear, bouncing around, celebrating with her friends. The rest of the conferencees were whispering, wondering. Lucky girl. She scored.
Yeah, I was a bit green. But I put my head down, focused on myself and got to work doing what the Lord had given me to do.
Do you know that author’s career has yet to land a major house book deal? I know… hard to believe.
You just never know! Don’t judge. Don’t think you’re a loser before you even get started! Don’t think that one over there will get a book deal or favor and not you.
Yet, rejoice with those who do and wait for God’s perfect timing for you. Do you know I met the lovely, gracious and talented Susan May Warren at the 2002 Conference.
She was Miss Thing that year having just signed with Tyndale. Her star was rising. I never thought she’d be friends with me. But guess what? Conference after conference we became friends. We served on ACFW board together. We found a kindred heart. She’s been instrumental in my writing career. All because I accepted the invitation to put my insecurity and fears behind me.
So, how should you prepare for the conference?
1. Adopt my core value: Esteem others above yourself. Think the best of every one. Forgive easy. Don’t be offended. Be humble! Jesus loves humility!
2. Prepare as best you can. Get your pitch ready. Study the craft. Editor your story. Get that hook set so you can converse with an editor or agent about your work.
3. Adopt a casual professional look. Don’t spend a bunch of money you don’t have, but go through your wardrobe and figure out what looks good on you. It doesn’t have to be the latest styles, but try too look as professional as possible.
4. Pray, pray, pray.
5. Reach out to others before hand. It helps break the ice the first day.
Can’t wait to see you in St. Louis.
Rachel Hauck serves on the ACFW Advisory Board and is also the conference worship leader. You can learn more about her and her books on her website.