(Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on ACFW’s blog in June 2011. With the upcoming conference in Indianapolis, this is a fun time to relive those memories).
by Regina Merrick
The 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis was my first experience in attending a writing conference of any type.
It was big.
It was a little scary.
It was a little strange.
I didn’t KNOW any of these people.
But I went anyway. I caught a ride in Louisville with two total strangers. OK, they were strange (pun intended ), but I knew them as my fellow Inkspirational Message bloggers, and we had emailed extensively. And the strange part was that we picked up as if we’d known one another all our lives.
I roomed with three total strangers. Again, strange, but not. Two of my roomies were old friends from a fanfiction site that brought me on board their writers’ group. The other roomie was a dear Inksper, too. We hit it off immediately. You’d think four women sharing a bathroom and two beds, all their luggage stacked at the foot of those beds, would get a little crazy. Oddly enough, it didn’t. It was fun. It was edifying, and it was like coming home after a long, stressful day. And I think I only tripped over suitcases one time.
Other strange facts about attending ACFW: People you’ve “seen” on other blogs, thanks to name tags, rush up to you and hug you. Agents and editors that you imagine will totally intimidate are friendly and pleasant. Authors that you consider the “big names” in Christian Fiction chat with you about their kids on the elevator.
And something that I didn’t take advantage of, that I know I will if I’m blessed to go this year, is the Prayer Room – there are people praying for God to speak to us at this conference. I know that doesn’t happen at your normal, everyday conference.
I loved the sessions, I loved the worship times, the meals were fantastic (can anyone say ASPARAGUS?), and the company? Priceless. My first lunch I was blessed to sit between two published authors, Kaye Dacus and Martha Rogers. Unlike meals at other conferences I’ve attended where you tend to just seek out your own group, I didn’t feel the urge to seek out my roomies necessarily, but simply soaked in the essence of fellow writers from all over the world. Yes, a gentleman next to me at the Awards Banquet was from outside the US.
One of the goals I had before attending, last year, was a completed manuscript. I knew there was no sense in pitching a story if it were not finished and I was determined to get every bit of my money’s worth out of this conference. So I finished my first manuscript. I pitched. I had my manuscript requested.
This year? My goal is to relax and wait for God to work. I can’t make it happen, only God can. He gave me a storyline and characters that could last through two more books. He’s made me love the publishing industry. Maybe my job, in the world of writing , is to encourage other writers. I can do that. I love writers. I love the angst they go through, and the process that the brain goes through to develop a story.
Most of all, I like to pray for those who are writing stories that lift up my Lord. Will you pray with me, for those attending, or who WANT to attend ACFW, and maybe can’t?
ACFW is a revival for writers. Some people would think it strange. But really, can it get any better than that?
Regina Merrick can be found at the Inkspirational blog.