Other than getting locked overnight in a candy store, there’s no place I’d rather be than in a room filled with Christian writers. Being around so many like-minded people sends me into overdrive. Like a hyper two year old, I have to remember to use my inside voice and my grown-up manners.
The night before, I’m so excited I have a hard time sleeping. There will be dozens of friends to greet and new friends to meet. I strategize which industry professionals I want to meet with and people I need to introduce to each other. I double-dog dare myself to be brave enough to introduce myself to the keynote speaker.
A writers conference is Christmas and the attendees are my presents. My presents are opened through conversation. When someone opens up to you, they encourage you with a snippit of their testimony or their writing journey. They eagerly share knowledge, experience, resources, or advice. Sometimes you fellowship over the challenges of being a writer, and sometimes you whine, but the communion of soul nourishes you for the days ahead.
Choosing a table at meal time is not like it was in Junior High School. Every table is filled with cool people, because they’re all people who write scenes in their heads and don’t try to interrupt you when you stare into space, silently plotting a murder or a break-up. Because I’ve been talking a lot, I’m usually the last in line and there aren’t a lot of open spaces left. I love sitting with my friends, but more often I choose a table with new faces. Especially faces that look nervous or confused. Introductions around the table are encouraged and we begin forming relationships that could extend beyond Facebook.
My heart is for the newbies, because I will never forget that feeling of my first writers conference. I walked in the door and stood in line to register for the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal. (I blogged about the anticipation and the experience in 2009.)
Everyone in line was silent. They didn’t greet me or introduce themselves. I was overwhelmed by the rare experience of being surrounded by quiet strangers and writers. I was newly entering into the world as Mindy the Writer, not Mindy the Bible Camp Preacher’s Wife, Mindy the Homeschooling Mom of Six, or Mindy the Boss’s Wife. The only hat I was wearing was the one that had been on the shelf for too many years.
I didn’t start talking to people next to me in the line, as I usually would. It wasn’t that I was afraid, but I wanted a few moments of quiet to soak it all in and to see what shy felt like. I also wanted to figure out why people weren’t talking. Wasn’t this the biggest moment of a writers life? Wasn’t this the base camp of summiting the publishing mountain? I assumed most writers were extroverts and was surprised at the mellow mood. I’ve since learned the majority of writers are introverts and that the silence isn’t rejection. Or judgment. Or dislike.
It’s just silence.
They’re gathering their thoughts and their courage, and if I’m patient and encouraging, I will be blessed with all that simmers quietly below the surface.
Once I got my folder, found the main meeting room and made a tentative plan for the day, I was empowered. I started meeting and greeting people.
Suddenly, it was Christmas Day and I had presents to open!
I attend several conferences a year and they are my favorite way to improve my writing craft and make new friends.
If you can’t relate to how I approach a crowd of people, don’t worry. You’ll LOVE reading the introvert’s point of view written by Kim Vandel. She admits to wanting to stay at home in the fetal position to avoid a crowd, instead of jabbering like a toddler in the middle of a crowd.
I’m a writer and voracious reader from the Seattle suburbs.
I wanted to be Princess Leia when I grew up,
but I’ve decided that being a writer is even better
than leading a rebellion against the Empire.
My current project is a YA suburban fantasy set in
Washington state. It features plenty of coffee but no vampires.