Monday, May 08, 2006

this weekend--part one

There's so much to tell, I can't get it all in one post.

First, I spent two wild, whirlish days scampering all over Seattle Pacific University, talking with writers and reconnecting with old friends. The annual Writers' Recharge is an "efficient" conference, which means there's not a lot of strolling or time-killing. What you'd normally pack into three days, or four, has been shaken, stamped, condensed and squeezed into a tidy, 32-hour nugget.

I'm exhausted.

But I'm also invigorated, for I've been in rooms packed with creative minds and God-focused hearts. This year, because a counterpart at one of the publishing houses I freelance for couldn't make it, I took his place on "that" side of the table. With a stack of guidelines and business cards, I waited for groups of six to enter my small conference room and pitch their book ideas. They came in with big eyes and rapid heartbeats and high hopes. I knew exactly what each person was feeling, for I'd been on "that other" side of the table myself. Wanting to sweep the uneasiness from the room and get down to the sharing of bright ideas, I tried to convey the we-ness I felt. "I'm a writer--just like you," I told them.

It gave me great delight to watch passion strengthen their voices and strip their fear. As the spotlight circled the room and each person felt its warmth, trepidation turned to persuasion. Collectively, we witnessed the distillation of months--or maybe years--of thinking, planning, meditating and creating into a single drop of urgency: "This is what I've written. This is why it needs an audience."

I don't know what my counterpart from Colorado Springs will do when the manuscripts start trickling in. I'd been given the go-ahead to say yes to whichever ideas I liked--and I liked a lot. Though at times I felt like a child who had stumbled upon the keys to my father's candy shop, and stood now, waving my friends in with frantic urgency, I wasn't indiscriminate. Some ideas weren't ready. A few needed a tighter focus. One was so unique I knew it wouldn't find a place on a bookstore shelf, so I encouraged self-publishing. But I did say yes to many. Some, I can't wait to read.

It's a brave thing to package your heart on paper and lay it at the feet of a stranger. You step back, catch your breath, and pray no stomping will occur. But if you don't try, you never get to hear another say, "This has God written all over it."

Aside from those four hours of editor meetings, I also taught three workshops. As much as I enjoyed the first process, my real delight is teaching. We talked about fear, and writing with excellence, and blogging. We shared ideas. We cried a little. And over all, we reminded one another that what we do, we do for the One who loves us. We write because He's worth writing about, and because our world needs to hear His heartbeat.

I'm encouraged by what I experienced this weekend. I saw a vast sea of pen-holders ready to take dictation; a group ready to lay their talents on the altar and let God have His way.

It's what I want too.


7 Comment:

At 5/08/2006 9:56 AM, Blogger Sandra had this to say ...

Having been on "that other" side of the table from you this weekend, I want you (and the rest of the world, I guess) to know that your kind smile and at-ease attitude revealed we were in the presence of one who understands the "guide vs. guru" approach another faculty member spoke of.

Sometimes I feel that publishing is just a con ... as in confidence game. Don't get me wrong ... I've worked in publishing, so I know it isn't. It just feels that way.

Anyway, I wanted you to know that your non-jaded approach to the sometimes harsh realities of publishing reminded me God is in control, not us.

And that though it seems those who pitch best leave little room for the quieter souls, in God's game there is plenty of room on the field for those of us who have to practice more, work harder, and perservere because we believe we have caught God's vision.

As an itinerant second string outfielder, I am grateful that when I stepped up to the plate, you looked past the smudges on my uniform and saw my heart.

You reminded me it is the obedience to the craft of writing, not only the showy game of publishing, that matters.

Thank you, Shannon.

You have become one of my new favorite people. And, if I can ever figure out how to post links to my blog, I'll add yours...

Grateful for your inspiration and invitation,

Sandra Bishop


At 5/08/2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Jim Martin had this to say ...

Just read this very inspiring post. Are there cd's available of your workshops? I would be interested in hearing your material...

At 5/08/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Sandra, thank you for such a beautiful comment. I so enjoyed getting to know you this weekend. Your book idea resonated with me--I could completely relate to your experiences. I know you will minister to a vast audience when your book finds its publisher.

I hope our paths cross again! I'll be checking out your blog. :)

Hello Jim,

Thanks for the inquiry. Yes, as soon as I can get my digital voice recorder to our tech guy, he'll be burning CDs of the workshops. I'll post the info here when it's all ready.

Hope you're doing well. :)

At 5/09/2006 3:44 AM, Blogger Patrice had this to say ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/16/2006 10:36 PM, Blogger e-Mom had this to say ...

Too funny! I just stumbled across your site tonight. I had to miss the SPU conference for a family emergency. (I'm local). No matter, I thought, I'll just dive in without the information from the one seminar I was really hoping to attend: Harness the Power of Blogging. And here you are! I hope you visit me and see what you've inspired... all from a brief title in the conference schedule. Blessings.

At 6/23/2006 2:58 PM, Blogger Jay KTX had this to say ...

"It's a brave thing to package your heart on paper and lay it at the feet of a stranger."

That's what we writers do, isn't it? Thanks for phrasing it so perfectly. That statement deeply touched my heart.

At 1/25/2008 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Shannon- you are a beautiful writer! As a first-time attendee of any writers conference, or meeting with an editor, I must say that you were kind and very encouraging. The warmth of your spirit was the talk of many, including me. I think of Barnabas when I think of you: "When he [Barnabas] arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord." Acts 11:23.

Thank you also for the great class on Blogging! I am up and running now, thanks to you.



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