by B.J. Young
In four days I’m going to get into my car and drive to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. My initial stop on Friday morning will be the orientation for first time attendees. To say I’m excited, and a little nervous, is an understatement.
In the world of writing, I am a novice. I’ve only been doing it for publication for three years. Even though I’ve spent a great deal of time reading the best guides on how to write, and listening to some of the best teachers at other conferences, I know there’s much I still need to learn.
I must admit, I had doubts about whether I should invest my money in this conference. You see, I’ve chosen to be a self-published author, and I know ACFW’s mission is to prepare novelists for success in traditional publishing. But I also know that the organization wants to help all their members develop skills to become better writers.
After praying about it, I felt God leading me to attend. He obviously knows I need to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that will be available to me. In my prayers, He also helped me to see that there is a standard of measurement that must be set in every area of life. The ACFW and traditional publishers are the ones who set that standard for Christian writers.
Although I’ve not met that standard, attending this conference allows me to rub elbows with people who have achieved this high level of quality and excellence. The best writers of Christian fiction will be in Indy and I want to be there with them. I’ve discovered from other conferences that those who’ve met the industry’s standards are an inspiration to me.
I also believe I have something in common with other writers, agents and editors who will be at the ACFW conference. As Christians, they, like me, are aware of another standard of measurement that’s more important than the one set by the professionals in our industry. It’s the standard God sets for us to attain in our spiritual and personal lives.
I recently read the story, from the book of Mark, where Jesus and the disciples were witnessing the giving of those who entered the temple. You may recall that the wealthy came first and dropped in their their large offerings. Then it was the poor widow’s turn. She dropped in her two mites. Do you remember what Jesus said? “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything.” Jesus’ standard of measurement is a total commitment to Him. It’s the one I want to meet in every area of my life.
After I read this story, I felt reassured that all God wants from me as a writer is my best. I know I don’t have the experience of those who have found success as traditionally published authors, and I may not have their talent; but if God has asked me to write, I will give it everything I have.
If I do my best, and what I write touches the hearts of my readers, then I’ve met God’s standard of measurement. Like most writers, I’m also grateful for the validation I get from my readers. Perhaps one of the most profound experiences of my life occurred in December last year when an atheist responded to one of my stories that was picked up by The Huffington Post. He wrote, “Thanks…for sharing your God experience with us.” How humbling that God can use the words of a novice to touch the heart of an unbeliever.
So off to Indy I’ll go. I cannot wait to worship, learn, and have fun with those who’ve met the industry’s standard of measurement. And I’m hoping that the nervous jitters will go away on Friday when I go to that orientation with other writers like me, neophytes who are still learning, and have a goal to reach the level of quality and excellence that is set by ACFW.
After retiring from a long, rewarding career in nursing, B.J.Young continued to feel a need to nurture those who were hurting. She began to write short inspirational stories and devotionals. Her short stories have been published by Guideposts, Angels on Earth and the Huffington Post. Her debut inspirational fiction novel, A Portrait of Dawn was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest in 2012, and was self-published through Inspiring Voices in February of 2013. The Sequel, “Dawn’s New Day, A Love Story” was released in June, 2013. She is presently working on the last book of her Dawn Trilogy. She is a member of ACFW and Northwest Ohio Christian Writers. She lives in NW Ohio with her husband, and enjoys spending time with her three daughters and eight grandchildren.