This past week I spent almost four full days attending workshops as well as coaching classes at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference in Portland, Oregon. Evening seminars after dinner were taught by the unparalleled wisdom of James Scott Bell, a prolific, award-winning author from southern California.
My coaching class was taught by Lynn Austin, a historical writer who has more than nineteen novels to her name as well as having garnered the coveted Christy award eight times. Lynn’s teaching covered the basics of polished writing and she flavored her instruction with personal insights of things she’d learned during her writing journey. Time well spent.
A conference of this size inspires you to return home ready to write again. Those who came discouraged leave with a better mindset. Spending time with an author you admire, or meeting an editor with whom you hope to have a working relationship one day, can energize the weariest of word processors among us. Getting praise for your efforts is icing on the cake.
Those who need a reality check get a close up evaluation of their work and how it measures up to others of like persuasion. Having a professional assessment of your work-in-progress can be costly if done for hire, but at a conference, appraisals by other writers are part of the package. Most writers who have been awarded that job are published authors with years of training in their resume. Seeing your words through another’s eyes can be both humbling and rejuvenating.
One must be mindful of the verse in Isaiah 40:31: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Writing is not an effortless occupation, nor is it one that rewards without restraint
The biggest complaint is of the conference not being long enough, even though you come home tired and drained. Your learning capacity cup runs over from having been filled with enough information to boost you into the next year.
II Timothy 2:15 speaks of learning God’s word: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth.”
So it is for writers—learning how to process text one word at a time.