Totally Worth It
As conference season warms up, I’m tickled to be a stop on the official ACFW Conference Blog Tour. This is the only conference I’ve had the pleasure of attending thus far, so I can’t really compare it to any others out there. But I can share my excitement and some of what I’ve taken away the two years I’ve gone.
As the wife of a mathematically-minded man who runs three different businesses, things in my house tend to be measured against the Worth It scale—you know what I mean. We spent X amount on this, which led to Y number of sales. Was it worth it? We invested so many hours of work into the project, which led to this much turnaround. Was it worth it?
It didn’t take long to realize Conference had no place on this scale. My first trip, we scrimped and saved and took our family of three out to Dallas. I went to classes, had appointments, made connections—my hubby watched our almost-two-year-old in the room. He wanted definites to come from it—contracts, advances, royalties. I got something much, much better.
First, I met the woman now my agent. Totally clicked with her, and she took my proposal home with her. Two months later, I got that first exciting call as she asked—ASKED!—to represent me. (As if I was gonna say no, right?)
Next, I met an editor who did not end up buying my book, but who took it to committee and fought for it—which she said she doesn’t often do for books she requests from conference meetings.
Naturally, I learned a lot about craft, about the industry, about marketing.
But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was the people. Never in my life had I been in a room so full of people I knew instinctively I could trust. Though arguably we were all there to compete for only a handful of spots those editors and agents had open, we were not competitors. We were sojourners, traveling together on different branches of the same road. Compatriots. Colleagues. Friends.
I got to meet my critique partner for the first time in person. I met a young woman who was pregnant (as I was) carrying a red leather bag (as I was), who has since become my best friend and another critter. I met a sweet woman with a gentle disposition who also joined the critique group a couple months later. When we all met up again at ACFW last year, it was like a family reunion with sister, mother, and grandmother (they chose their own designations, I didn’t assign them!).
Have I seen a monetary return on these investments? Um, no. But my life will never be the same. Nowhere else have I ever found what Anne Shirley (of Green Gables) would call such “kindred spirits.” Nowhere else have I been surrounded by so many like minds. Nowhere else have I gotten to immerse myself so completely in the world I want to make my own.
Hope to see everyone there again this year in Indy! I’ll once again be bringing my family—so if you see a prancing princess and a little curly-haired monkey squealing his way after her, those would be mine. My daughter is very excited to go to “comprence,” because she wants “to be a book writer someday too.” (Don’t worry, y’all, I’m not sneaking her into classes, LOL.) I have a feeling my son will be far more interesting in the vroom-vrooms his papa will probably take him to see while in the famous racing town. And Mama—Mama will be soaking up, once again, the sheer delight of being Home.