This weekend I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers' national conference in Indianapolis. Over 600 people with my same compulsion for story gathered to glorify God by investing our Talents (see Matt. 25:14-30). There was some amazing fellowship, killer classes--both figuratively and literally--and opportunities to network with, and present our work to, leading agents and editors in the industry.
There are few places in which it is okay to discuss what body count is acceptable and where inflicting trials and tribulations upon others is a good thing. A writers' conference is probably the safest one. It was pretty cool to hear people who've been publishing longer than I've been alive talk about the craft. It was cooler still to build new friendships and meet some people who I truly admire for their skill, their stories, and their hearts for showing God's love.I got to meet my critique partners in person for the first time. We laughed and joked and encouraged and prayed over each other. We celebrated good meetings and comforted when fear or stress threatened to overcome hope.
I was struck this weekend by two things. First, God has his hand on this. But He is most glorified when I am willing to strive, sweat, and toil. My labor is part of the gift He gets when a project made for His glory is born. I have oodles of notes and techniques that I can't wait to start applying to my work. In one sense, it is terribly daunting. I mean, we're talking about picking through an entire manuscript with a literary lint brush to clean it up. But, I've seen what it can do, and I wouldn't walk around with dog hair on my bum, so why would I let my novel do so?
In a grander sense, to be with people who share your passion, who understand the unique gravity that draws you to story demanding to be told, is like finding your place in the crayon box. Our God is Creator. He spoke things into being. Jesus told stories in His sermons. For me writing is not a mere hobby, it can be an act of worship. I am reflecting my Creator God. He has not just given me stories, He has put in my heart a rhythm that beats most true through written word. To stand shoulder to shoulder with so many hearts beating in tandem is a profound thing. And it sparked my desire further to perfect this art form in the name of my God.
So, thank you, my God, for story. Thank you for planting the love of story in my soul. Thank you for the writers you have formed and those you are forming now and for bringing us together. Thank you for the knowledged, encouragement, and opportunities this weekend afforded and thank you for letting me go. You are God of all Creativity, the Word, my Lord. I love you more today than yesterday. May I glorify you always.