I grew up in a home that, because of my fatherâ€™s alcoholism and all the baggage that comes with it, I became what I called a self-contained unit. I had very little expectation of support, encouragement or advice free of judgment; I learned to accomplish things and make decisions in isolation. It never occurred to me how much more I could accomplish if I had a cheering section in my life.
Today, I am preparing to teach a writing workshop at an ACFW conference that will be held September 18-21. Along with my husband, ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) has been the â€œcheering sectionâ€ for my writing. If it hadnâ€™t been for ACFW, I may not have continued to try to get my first book, Romance Rustlers, published. At one point, my first book almost sold; all the lights were green and it looked like the publisher would pick it up. Then after much waiting, they decided not to. I was devastated and I wanted to quit.
I went through all the usual stuff we Christians go through when faced with failure. Wondering if I was in Godâ€™s plan. Had I heard his voice clearly? I questioned why he would give me a talent and then not open doors for me to use it?
I am not one that shares failure and pain easily. I posted what had happened to the ACFW email loop thinking it was mostly an exercise in me taking a risk and learning to share my feelings and my failure. The response I got was overwhelming. I had people pray for me and offer encouragement. The thing that helped the most was that other writers who were now published shared their stories of the first books that almost sold. What is that old saying, that Satanâ€™s greatest weapon is to make us feel like we are alone in our pain?
It might not be a writerâ€™s group for you. It might be a support group for addiction or a weight loss group or a quilting group that is about way more than quilting, but all of us need places where we can take our masks off and share our deepest pain. And all of us need a â€œcheering sectionâ€ in the stands. I encourage you to seek that out in your life.
Iâ€™m excited about teaching a workshop at the conference in Minneapolis because it is my chance to give back. If you think writing might be your thing, there is more info about the conference at www.acfw.com. Even if you canâ€™t attend the conference, there is info about joining ACFW.
Sharon Dunnâ€™s fifth mystery Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear was released in January 2008. It is book two in the Bargain Hunters mysteries. You can read more about Sharonand her humorous who-dun-its at www.sharondunnbooks.com.