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The first writers’ conference I ever attended was one I helped organize, in a city that hadn’t seen a Christian writers’ conference in many years. I just wanted to be around other writers, other like-minded people.
I don’t know what I was expecting but I was really surprised to discover that the other writers there weren’t some famous high falutin’ authors. They didn’t look like Ernest Hemingway. They didn’t spout off long-winded, obtrusive commentaries.
They were ordinary people, just like me.
Nobody looked down his nose at me. Nobody whispered behind her hands, “What is she doing here?” When I said I was a writer they believed me, even when I didn’t believe it myself.
So, it was at a writers’ conference that I found the courage and the confidence to call myself a writer. Out loud.
It was at a writers’ conference that I found out that the way I write is OK.
The plenary speaker and author of many novels called himself an Intuitive Writer - someone who doesn’t know ahead of time what is going to come out of the end of his pen. He just writes whatever comes to him. He told us that partway through the writing of one of his novels, an important character decided to up and leave the story completely, and how he, the writer, was left wondering what to do. And I thought, “That’s how I write! It must be ok.” It was a significant AHA! moment in my history.
Up to that point I had thought I was odd.
It was at a writers’ conference where I learned about and joined ICWF’s listserv, an email community of like-minded people who help and serve each other as we navigate the many facets of writing.
It was at a writers’ conference where I answered the call to write once a month for Inscribe Writers Online.
It was a writers’ conference where I entered my first writing contest, and won second place in my category.
It is at writers’ conferences that I get so inspired, so encouraged that I feel myself swelling from the inside out with confidence and absolute LOVE for putting words down on paper.
Over the years I have come to know and recognize other writers. From that day 9 years ago, when I walked into that first writers conference, to today, I find I am among friends there. I’m still not completely comfortable walking into a room full of other people, let alone writers – that’s probably the introvert in me - but it is so comforting to find friends there. People I’ve come to know over the years. Writers I admire – not just because of their writing, but also because of their character.
So have Writers’ Conferences influenced me? Absolutely! Each writing conference is another stepping stone in my growth as a writer. The impact on my confidence, my freedom to create, and on my sense of my calling has been invaluable. If you have never attended one I encourage you to take that first step, hop onto that first stepping-stone. You’ll never look back.
Joylene writes from her home in Edmonton where, currently, all the furniture is piled in the middle of the rooms so that the painters have room to paint.