Recently, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. I always come away from these gatherings with renewed creativity and an appreciation for just how tough this business is.
But I also come away with a glow.
If you’ve been to a writer’s conference, you probably understand. If not, and if you consider yourself a writer, you need to get to a conference and experience it.
I—intentionally—did not pitch a project in St. Louis. This freed me to relax and simply enjoy the moment. When I did, I realized a few things:
- I like the company of writers, editors, and agents. In an informal lobby gathering one night we had a laugh-fest—as creatives, yes, but also as people.
- You can inhale creativity. I had more new ideas—for my novel, my job, my church—in those few days than I had in the previous three months. Not all are gems, but I think some of them are.
- You can be alone in a room with hundreds of people. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing because you’re really in the world of your novel and everyone there understands.
Now I’m back home, back at work, back in my everyday world—and I’m enjoying the residual glow. From this point through February 2012, I’m stepping onto the other side of the conference experience.
In my work as editor-in-chief at the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, I get to help plan and execute our conference, Writing for the Soul. This is my second year. Last year I was a wide-eyed schoolboy conference planner (some would say a deer-in-the-headlights conference planner, and I won’t contest that).
This year, I’m just as excited, but I have a better understanding of the work that goes into pulling off a conference. And I’m wondering something: Other than put on the best conference possible, what can we do to help our conferees experience “the glow”—at the conference and after they return home? How do you keep the glow glowing?
Michael Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written for newspapers and other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the editor of Afictionado, the ezine for American Christian Fiction Writers.