Writing Conferences: The Gifts Faculty Members Receive
You may have noticed that I vanished from the Tactical Editor last week. The truth is that I was so immersed in preparing for the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference the week before that conference that I found no time to prepare posts to schedule in m y absence. My apologies, and I’m back.
When I attend conferences, I like to share a little about them, and I realized that much is written concerning what an attendee can expect to get when attending such an event. Not so much is shared with regard to what a faculty member might experience during the days of meetings and teaching.
I’m going to admit that while studying and preparing for the recent conference, I was empty. My life has consisted for several months of “working around” from job to job and not passion to passion. My overall passion is that of an author. Teaching and mentoring are also avenues in which I indulge myself. Sitting down to focus on the passion of teaching became increasingly difficult, and I fought against it, but God kept reminding me that I had been asked, and I had obligated myself to this responsibility. When I sat down to work on the project, sneaking time in here and there, I wondered if I was fulfilling that obligation to bring quality work to the table for those who attended my classes.
With that said, let me share with you what this one faculty member received from the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference (FCWC):
A Worshipful Heart: At FCWC, a very talented musician leads the attendees in powerful moments of praising God in song. This worship allows the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to devotions and then to the messages of the keynote speakers who remind us of our purpose and of the One who gave us our passion to write. Every session was Holy Spirit led, and everyone who attended left those times with hearts full of the goodness of the One we serve.
Friends: Oh, yes, like minds gather at events that feature their passions. At Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, I found friends, lots and lots and lots of friends. I even made one of those “I feel as if I’ve known you all my life” connections with an eighty-six year old woman, who is beginning her writing career, and with her daughter, who is a passionate screenwriter. Of all places, we met in the restroom the first night of the conference. I made friends in the classes I taught, at the meals I ate, in the conversations at the meeting table, and in the hallways where we gathered to chat. I even made friends with a teen who writes Christian steam punk who seemed a bit floored that this old lady even knew about steam punk.
Knowledge: I know it seems like I might believe I know everything. I don’t. I didn’t have time to slip into even one class this year, but I still gained important information, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The teaching came from listening to others who definitely have experienced more than me, whose interest open doors of creativity to me, and to those who thought I was teaching them, but I was actually gleaning from their wisdom as well.
Happy Tears: I wiped tears a few times, especially on Saturday. I thought at first that it might have been the overall “exhilarating” tiredness that was seeping into my body, but when I think about it, I believe the tears sprang from a heart of gratitude. Friday morning, the keynote speaker spoke about how God can turn us in a different direction, not to take you completely away from where you are (not always anyway), but to place you where He knows you will be more valuable to His Kingdom. That started the waterworks. I was deeply touched by the message the Holy Spirit gave to me as the speaker shared her story. I believe that opened me to tender moments that touched my heart: A precious girl stepped onto the stage at the banquet Saturday evening, and in sign language she sang a beautiful song of praise; my elderly friend said that she loved me; her daughter declared us sisters from another mother; people encouraged me without even knowing they were doing so just by a sweet word here and there.
Laughter: Oh, my goodness. If you know me, you know that I live to laugh. I’m used to people laughing at me, but it is so much better when you hit on just the right story from your past. You feel like an instant stand-up comedian. Those classroom moments were golden, but FCWC is a conference that takes laughter as seriously as it does worship and instruction. So many wonderful moments brought glee, but one man’s jumping to his feet, interrupting the speech at an Awards Banquet, and stomping on the ground was enough to send me into a fit of giggles. Add to that his turning around and saying, “It’s okay. It was only a spider. It’s dead now,” then sitting down and bouncing to his feet once again with hands raised before taking a bow to declare, “You’re welcome” the laughter hung in the air for several minutes. Impromptu moments such as that pepper the conference–many of them from the wonderful co-directors Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock. It’s as if they might know how tense a writer’s conference can be, and they are attempting to lesson the tension, and they do it wonderfully.
Reaffirmation: I saved the best for last. Others, I’m sure, received affirmation at this conference. I choose the term reaffirmation because this isn’t the first time that I have doubted God’s calling. Remember, I said that I struggled getting ready for FCWC. I desired to bring the best possible information and deliver it in a way that would engage my class. I had to find blocks of minutes where I could sit in thought. The truth is, I didn’t find too many of those. What I found were brief moments to sit down and write. I dictated my inner thoughts onto the page. Finishing with lots and lots and lots of pages, I told God that I didn’t think this would deliver. God agreed, because when I found the moments to begin what I thought were practice in “delivering” my pages to the class, that proverbial light bulb shines clicked on an illuminated dimwit hall, this cavern in my brain that I sometimes find myself wandering in. The light pinpointed one concept I’d forgotten: PowerPoint. Lots and lots of discussion is fine, God showed me, if I have something that narrows down what I’m saying. I hoped that this would be enough.
When Eva Marie came to me and asked how much I’d paid my class,” I was dumbfounded. I think I might have even asked her, “For what?” Eva said, “Your class members have come to me to tell me how wonderful your class has been, and I’ve told them that even if you do not want to come back next year, you’ll be here.”
At that moment, if not for having a line of wonderful people who wanted to talk to me, I would have melted to the floor in a pool of tears (yes, sour things can melt too). God had delivered to that class and to me, personally. He had reaffirmed that I am a teacher. He had reaffirmed that no matter how difficult the enemy makes things, I am still to pursue my passions. He had also taught me what our last keynote speaker had shared in the closing session: We set our own boundaries, and it is time to review those again and determine if they are God-set or self-set, and if we are deterring our growth in any way, we need to throw away those boundaries, because with Christ, we can do all things.
Which again reaffirmed what every novel I write incorporates: God is in the details. If you don’t believe me, read Romans 8:28.
This last weekend, at a writers’ conference, He proved how detailed oriented He can be when it comes to showing His love.
Fay Lamb (The Tactical Editor) is an author, editor, and writing coach.
Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newly released The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.