Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reflections from Florida Christian Writer's Conference 2014

Reflections from Florida Christian Writer’s Conference 2014

This February I was blessed to participate in the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. For those of you couldn’t make it, I want to share what stood out for me. It is my hope that these reflections translate to not just writing, but any vocation, whether you’re a minister, homemaker, farmer, or teacher. 

            First, I was delighted by the diversity of God’s story tellers. I met a teenage girl, who was way cooler than I was as teenager (or ever will be for that matter) writing a young adult dystopian, a non-profit worker committed to strengthening families (I am pretty sure I will see him on a book cover in the next few years), and an eighty plus children’s book author. Oh, and yes, there was my fellow pregnant friend who like me, is writing away during nap time (you go mama!). Everyone had different interests, different stories, and different passions. What I think gave these stories meaning and depth, was Jesus in them; the redemption, the hope, and the inspiration that only he can bring. The stories that really cooked had a lot Jesus at the center, mixed with the individuality and uniqueness of the artist. What I learned is that Jesus is the great story teller, if you let your story start with him, it’s sure to sing. 

            Second, rejection and resistance are an essential, if not a generative part of our craft. I have always felt that good writing takes about ten percent talent, ten percent a great idea, forty percent willingness to be criticized, if not flat-out rejected, and forty percent perseverance, hard work, or better put, long-suffering. Film maker Brent McCorkle, Unconditional (2012), stated that God chose to exist in a world of resistance, and resistance makes redemption possible.

Break-out group with author Craig Von Buseck

 This articulated what I have perceived in my evolution as a writer. I have found that it is through setbacks, that my writing is strengthened. There is always a moment after a rejection to despair. This usually looks like a lot of emotional eating, crying to my husband, followed with a dramatic declaration that I quit and no longer want to write. It is just way too hard. After I get over this hump, I can reconsider what is working and what isn’t. I can see my writing with new perspective and hopefully, get closer to the goal of creating beautiful words and ideas that please God. Embracing resistance is   the key to creating anything worthwhile. 

            Third, you can’t write alone, you have to share your work with others. Literary types repeatedly talk of the “platform,” of an author. This word used to give me a full body cringe, but lately, I have learned to embrace the reality that artists need to be sharing their work, ideas, and lives with others. That is after all, the point of writing. Every writer believes in their heart they have something worthy to share. That is why we write. You have to put yourself out there, even when it is hard, even when it makes you feel awkward, if not, painfully vulnerable. You can’t be a writer and write on your own. Everything we do in life is better when done in community. St. Paul tells us that we are not individuals, but parts of Christ’s dynamic body, so what can be more biblical as an artist than sharing yourself with others? I have been so enriched by the risks that other artists have taken and want to be a part of that kind of inspired sharing. Whatever we do, let’s do it in the fellowship of others.

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