by Cynthia Ruchti
What do writers do if they don’t have confidence in the God of All and instead think everything’s up to them? It’s up to them to figure out how to catch the ear of an agent and editor. It’s up to them to decide which editors and agents are the right match for their project. It’s up to them to make their manuscript rise to the top of the Genesis or Book of the Year contest so anything less than a first place finish is failure. It’s up to the person to find exactly the right seat in the banquet hall, the classrooms, at the dining tables. It’s up tothem to impress. What do they do if they believe they’re humanly responsible for details only the Lord can do perfectly?
How does any writer survive the natural dips and dives of emotions at a high-intensity event like the ACFW national conference?
And what difference does it make to know that Jesus is the Redeemer of Disappointments?
No crying at conference? Au contraire!
Conference disappointments range from forgetting to pack your good shoes to realizing that the genre about which you’re most passionate took a nose-dive in a shallow pool. Ouch.
ACFW attendees thrive on imagination, but imagination has a flip side, creating multiple opportunities for disappointment.
“Did you see the way that editor ignored me in the elevator? I sat with her at lunch. Now she doesn’t even acknowledge we ever met. I think she hates me. I know she hates me. Or this jacket. Maybe it’s my jacket. And she must despise my book idea. Now I’ll never sell anything and I’ll have to go back to cleaning out the grease traps at the fast food restaurant. Dreams? What dreams? When’s the next flight home?”
Disappointment reproduces quickly in an environment like a conference for which you planned and saved all year, spent a bucket of money and time you could have used for other things, and invested a healthy portion of hope.
If your measure of success depends on your leaving the conference with a contract, you will be among more than 400 people who are disappointed. If completing the items on your personal agenda for “A Good Conference Experience Depends On…” is all you care about, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll be disappointed. Even if you think you have the Lord’s intentions figured out regarding what should happen during that week in September, you’re likely to feel the gut-kick of disappointment. It might last a micro-second and pass quickly as you move on to the next glorious moment. Or it may linger, hover, choking your joy because you thought it all depended on you.
Along with one-sheets and business cards and a 30-second pitch sure to generate the coveted “Ooh!” from your tablemates and target editor, have you made preparation for how you’ll handle disappointment if it ambushes you at the conference?
Consider these tips:
- Remind yourself that, as God’s Word says, “He works for those who wait for Him” (Psalm 64:4).
- Return to the unwavering truth of His love for you and His unique design for your writing career.
- Refuse to believe disappointment is a synonym for failure.
- Request a heart to hear from the Lord and let Him take the lead.
- Remain faithful to His principles and confident of His “mysterious ways.”
I had what might have been considered an unproductive and uncomfortable 15-minute appointment one year at conference. Within minutes, it became obvious it was the redirection I needed. Hard as it was. It pointed me where I needed to go.
At another appointment, an editor I highly respected took a pen to my sample, crossed off the first page and a half, and repeatedly circled a single, buried sentence (Not exactly the reaction I’d hoped to generate for my work). “Here’s your beginning,” he said, as I reached to grab my heart from where it had landed on the floor. He was right. (It’s now the opening of the book coming out next spring.)
I nursed a splinter of disappointment when I missed sitting where I wanted to for an important meal. Instead I stumbled onto new forever friends.
The publishing house I thought sure was the one the Lord wanted for me six years ago folded. Where would I be today if I’d gotten my way?
Without doubt, nerves and excitement and adrenalin and high hopes form a breeding ground for conference disappointments.
But Jesus redeems even what seem like grave disappointments for writers who trust Him with the outcome.
Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark” for fiction projects and through the drama/devotional radio broadcast, The Heartbeat of the Home. She is editor of the radio ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine and serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home—releases in spring 2010 with Abingdon Press.