When my great-American, best-selling, internationally-acclaimed novel was rejected, resulting in my becoming physically ill and spiritually deficient, I had to re-think what this writing life was all about. Perhaps God wasn’t going to put a novel in my brain, let it flow from my fingertips, and maybe He didn’t really want to work for me as my agent and earn 10%.
Thinking I might have more to learn, had only a high school education at the time, I began taking one literature, then English, course at a time and discovered there was more to writing than my inspired thoughts. I needed the review of basic grammar. I needed the rules of good writing, the confirmation that I did some things right, and the challenge of becoming like published writers who had experienced rejection and disappointment, but never gave up although it took many years before they were published.
I learned that Writing is a profession and my goal at that beginning and early stage should not be instant publication. My goal should be learning the craft, just as anyone must learn the craft of whatever job or profession he enters. One may have a certain expertise, natural inclination, or tendency but there is still the requirement of learning the craft and practicing what one learns. There should never be a time when one stops learning.
I became delighted with everything I learned and could incorporate into my writing. I started the Blue Ridge Conference, then began to teach classes, critique students materials, and mentor because those who have gone before me had taught me. They encouraged, motivated, challenged, and inspired me. I want to pass it on.
I want other writers to reach their potential, have the joy of the writing journey, and find where God leads them in this profession. That’s why it’s so thrilling to me when students make comments like these:
“My first article was just accepted. I wanted you to know. Thank you for the conference.”
“Thank you for your encouraging critique. I believe that I am learning a good bit and that gives me a great deal of happiness. I realize there’s still a long way to go, but I am enjoying the journey.”
“I cannot thank you enough for your time and feedback. I have moved forward on several projects.”
“A week and a half until Christmas! I am thankful for the instruction and encouragement because it has kept me writing a bit more than I might have otherwise through this busy season. Good to remember that I CAN make time to keep writing through December.”
Ah, I think, it is I who am blessed to have the privilege and opportunity to be used by God and give back a little of what others have given to me through the years.
After directing the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, I turned it over to Alton Gansky, who is doing a magnificent job with it, as I expected. Now I’m directing the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held annually, (October 18-22, 2015) at Ridgecrest Conference Center (western NC).
Along with classes on novel writing we’re offering a six-hour course in the all-important Social Media (taught by the experts: Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills). This is an opportunity to talk with faculty, editors, agent, enter contests, get critiques, hear Robert Whitlow and see his movie, Mountain Top. There’s the opportunity to learn from Eva Marie Everson, Lynette Eason, Eddie Jones, Torry Martin, Lori Marett, Ann Tatlock and Diana Flegal.
And it’s not all novel. There’s script writing, brainstorming, private appointments, critiques, contest awards, prize drawings, book signings. Other than having 56 novels out there, I’m now into non-fiction with my series of Moments books (50+ articles in each). Some of these authors do not claim to be “writers” but have stories they want to tell. Come and learn about that!