You should come! Really! St. Louis is a grand city! They have an arch in plain view from the hotel. The hotel has cool carpet. I’ll be there!
Listen, I know what it’s like to feel lost, alone, stupid, clumsy and like an outsider at a conference. In 2002, I attended the first ACFW conference and I felt completely on the outside. I left saying I’d never go to another conference again.
Ha! I was the Vice President of ACFW and conference coordinator two weeks later and heading the charge to Houston 2003.
But 11 years later, I still have moments when I feel like a fifth wheel or an unwanted stepchild. I think my agent or my editor doesn’t want to talk to me. Or that my friends are busy with other friends. I lose a contest. No one likes the worship songs I picked.
It’s always something. But really? It’s nothing! The conference is worth all those momentary feelings — and often imagined feelings — of being left out.”
Look, if I can feel left out — an advisor, teacher, mentor, worship leader, published author who’s attended every ACFW conference — then surely you can brave a moment or two of feeling the same. Right?
I tell you all of this to let you know you’re not alone. Come to the conference. I can guarantee you there will be folks to love on you, put an arm around you, pray with you. At the very least, come to the worship sets and connect with the One who loves you more than His own life and get your attitude and perspective straightened.
Chin up now. Attitude toward the Lord. Hearts open to give and receive. Here’s what you will get from the conference:
1. Opportunities to invest in your dream.
2. Motivating teaching.
3. Excellent accommodations.
4. Sparkling and inspiring keynote addresses.
5. Worship with 500 brothers and sisters in Christ.
6. St. Louis! Meet me there!
8. Connecting with old and new friends.
9. Meeting editors and agents, those who can help guide you along your publishing journey.
10. Four of the most frenetic days. You’ll be glad to go home to the hubby/wife, wild banshee kids and barking dogs. Two days later you’ll miss the conference so bad, you’ll ache!
I’m glad the Lord had other things in mind for me than quitting the conference in 2002. What joy I would’ve missed if I’d let my fears keep me back.
In all my conference years, I didn’t know what I was doing half the time. I botched more editor and agent appointments than I care to consider. I missed workshops. I offended people. I got offended. Come on, we’re people.
But I go every year with the core value: to love others and seek to esteem them higher than myself. With that as my main goal, the conference becomes easy. It’s not about me! Sigh of relief.
Surely you can join me with the same high calling? Let the Lord see to our careers, our writing destination. He’s good at handling those things.
Conference time makes it too easy to get discouraged if our eyes are on ourselves. Someone else seems to be so favored while you feel like a log of knotted pine.
At one conference, I’ll never forget the reaction of one author when her editor appointment produced the words, “Your work is incredible.”
I can still see the author smiling from ear to ear, bouncing around, celebrating with her friends. The rest of the conferees were whispering, wondering. Lucky girl. She scored.
Yeah, I was a bit green. But I put my head down and focused on my work — doing what the Lord had given me to do.
Do you know that author’s career has yet to land a major house book deal? I know … hard to believe.
You just never know! Don’t judge. Don’t think you’re a loser before you even get started! Don’t think that writer over there will get a book deal or favor and not you.
Rejoice with those who do and wait for God’s perfect timing for you. Do you know I met the lovely, gracious and talented Susan May Warren at the 2002 conference?
She was “Miss Thing” that year, having just signed with Tyndale. Her star was rising. I never thought she’d be friends with me. But guess what? Conference after conference, we became friends. We served on the ACFW board together. We each found a kindred heart in the other. She’s been instrumental in my writing career. All because I accepted the invitation to put my insecurity and fears behind me.
Can’t wait to see you in St. Louis.
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, bestselling author. A graduate of Ohio State, she spent 17 years in the corporate software world before leaving to write full-time. She is the past president of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and now serves as an advisor. She’s married and lives in central Florida.