Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Northwestern Christian Writer’s Conference. I have never been to a Christian writer’s conference before, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I got all of the usual “prepare for your conference” emails and as a person who follows the rules, I did. I printed business cards, read about the sessions before hand, and also read about the faculty. I thought I would be among a couple hundred participants and that this would be a small gathering.
Well, was I ever wrong. I have no idea how many people were there, but it was much more than a couple of hundred. I drove into the University of Northwestern’s beautiful campus and all of a sudden hit “traffic.” I thought there must be something else going on. I continued to follow the signs for the conference and then began to realize that we were all going to the same place.
I finally got to park and I watched hundreds of people make their way to the auditorium. Wow, I started to feel small, very small. The devil started to whisper things in my ear like, there’s no way you’re going to make it in this industry – just look at your competition. What do you have to offer this world that these people don’t? The devil is nasty and he sure can plant those seeds of fear and doubt very quickly.
Well, I thought I paid for this out of my own pocket, so I might as well try to make the best of it. I registered, got my information, and sat in a chair hoping no one would ask me any questions. It didn’t take more than two minutes for a sweet little lady to make her way over to me asking if she could sit down. Meet Norma. A sweet 78-year old woman who wrote her first Christian fiction book a few years ago and is finishing up her second one (oh, and I should mention that she is also starting a BBQ sauce business on the side). Norma was amazing (I think I’ll have a whole Norma dedicated post in the future- she’s very inspiring). She wasn’t looking around assessing her “competition.” She was just happy to be there for the second year in a row.
Norma and I ended up talking for almost an hour and it really helped to settle my nerves. I realized that there are all kinds of writers and this weekend should be about soaking up every ounce of information I can. We went into worship and the energy in the room was simply electrifying. Everyone was united, standing, and praising our Lord. It made me realize that we are all their for the same goal to share the good news of the Lord, and that we all have a different story to tell.
The next two days were exhausting. I learned everything I could about the publishing industry and how hard it really is to “make” it. Unfortunately, I’m human, and the thoughts of fear and doubt kept creeping in, until Sheila Walsh closed the conference on Saturday afternoon. She said something that will stay with me, “stay in your own lane.” Very simple, yet very powerful. She told a story of when she was having self-doubt and the good Lord whispered those words to her, “stay in your own lane.” She went home and Googled it and she found a race. A race known as the “miracle mile.” It’s down between two men. The man in first place led the entire race, until he looked over his shoulder to see where his competition was. As soon as he started worrying about everyone else, he lost his focus and also lost the race.
Sheila’s story really got me thinking. I wonder how often in life we lose our focus and maybe our dreams, because we are too distracted on what everyone else is doing. For me, when things seems really hard and almost unnatural it’s a sign that I’m trying to be something that I’m not. If I’m not excited about something, but am just going through the motions, that’s another sign for me. It’s most likely that’s someone else’s dream and not mine. Well, this little corner of the wide world web is my dream. Sharing with all of you, friends. I hope this simple story has you thinking about what you’re running to. Are you focused on the win, or are you distracted by what and who’s around you.
Blessings to you and your family,
Three items I’m grateful for:
- The realization that my writing is to serve our Lord, not my ego.
- The time I got to spend at the conference this weekend.
- Time I’m getting to spend with Owen at Vacation Bible School – two months ago that wouldn’t have been possible.