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Down in the Valley, Valley so Low

For those of you unable to attend the recent ACFW conference, there’s an understandable tendency to be down because you’d like to have been there. But right about now those who did attend may also be feeling a bit low. And that’s understandable, as well.

One of my first writer’s conferences (before I was ever a member of ACFW) got off to a less than auspicious start. It was raining. The campus was hard to navigate. I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t even sure why I was there, although I’d come because of a feeling that God wanted me to use my recent experiences to reach others. The first class I attended was less than inspiring. Nothing was going right.

By the end of that first day, I was ready to pack. Kay suggested I attend the session she’d chosen, because it had been excellent. The next day I did just that, and a writer named James Scott Bell held me spellbound for that session and the ones that followed as he showed us how this thing called writing could be exciting for both the writer and the readers. Needless to say, I not only stayed, but I left feeling like I’d visited the mountaintop.

Unfortunately, the further away from that conference I got, the more I felt myself doubting my ability to write. Sentences wouldn’t flow. Story arc wouldn’t make sense. Characters refused to cooperate with what I had in mind for them. I’ve subsequently learned that this trip into the valley after a mountaintop experience is pretty normal. And I know why it occurs.

At that writer’s conference, I was in the company of like-minded Christian writers every day. There was a time of worship, a time of prayer, a time of delving into the Scriptures. That’s what I was missing when I descended into the valley. I couldn’t replace it exactly, but I could–and did–make an effort to spend time in the Word and in prayer. And it helped.

The most important lesson I learned? I wasn’t writing for me. I wasn’t writing for my agent (when I got one) or editor (when and if publication became a reality). I was writing for God, and I needed to keep that firmly in front of me every time I sat down at the computer.

My time as a writer hasn’t been easy, and I suspect that yours will have some valleys as well. Fortunately, God has provided us with resources to help us through those times. Don’t forget them. And remember that the valleys we experience in our lives aren’t box canyons–they have an end, and at that end is the Light.

Richard L. Mabry, MD, is the author of the Prescription For Trouble series of medical thrillers. He also serves ACFW as Vice-President. You can learn more about him at his website and follow him on his blog.

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3 Responses to Down in the Valley, Valley so Low

  1. Thank you for sharing these words, Richard. I know I and others are slogging through this valley right now. This post is both timely and wise.

  2. Leslie Payne says:

    Hi Richard,
    I just “discovered” you through a post on The Writers’ View and followed your links here. This post is just what I needed today. Wasn’t at the conference, couldn’t even consider it, but am certainly making my way through the valley. Thanks for your encouragement. Pressing on!

  3. Jackie Smith says:

    Yes, we all have “lows”……thanks, Richard, for your thoughts. I am looking for the “Light”…….and hoping to read your books soon!
    jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net