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.
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.