Hanging out with other writers

 

Writing can feel like a solitary thing.

But when I attended the annual LDS Storymakers conference for the first time this year, I felt anything but alone. I was surrounded by 700 other people with the same passion. It was exhilarating to mingle with and feel the energy of so many people with a shared dream.

But it was also overwhelming.

As I learned about the craft and the business of writing from talented authors, the truth hit home that if I want to write a book that is really good and not just good enough (and oh, I do), I have a lot of work to do. Like, a lot. And while I see the smiling success of these authors and their shelves of published books, I know there is a huge iceberg of hard work, criticism from others, self-doubt and time — lots of time — beneath the surface. The thing that’s overwhelming is that I know I can’t just walk away from that.

 

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

— Mary Oliver

Getting to the conference wasn’t exactly convenient. I could have said no to the $200 price tag of coming to this thing. I could have said “never mind” when figuring out what to do with my kids while I attended and to having to lug my pump around because my baby is used to feeding every three hours. I could have stayed home after the first day, when the moments of mom guilt and I-should-be-home-with-them and who-am-I-to-think-I-can-write-a-book thoughts flitted through my brain. But I don’t think following a dream is ever convenient. And as much as I wish a fairy godmother would float into my life and grant me magical writing powers and time for writing, I know I just have to roll up my sleeves and get it done. Sometimes writing does feel magical. But sometimes it feels like homework from a mean English teacher with a wart on her nose.

I went away from the conference with lots of homework, but I also came away with new friends, and a feeling that I belong to a really cool group of people who are a little bit nuts, like me. People who are not selfish with their talents, knowledge, and secrets to success. I already can’t wait to come back next year.

 

Other highlights from the conference:

Taking every opportunity to use my new favorite writing slang word: Pantser. Although, technically, I’m a plantser. In case you were wondering.

Feeling like I was in elementary school again as I turned to a cute girl in the row behind me and asked if we could be friends.

Meeting CIA-operative-turned-author Traci Abramson, who I got to record a few audiobooks for.

Soaking in every minute of instruction from Sara Eden, Brandon Sanderson, Jennifer Jenkins, Rosalyn Eves, Janette Rallison, Amy Finnegan, and other authors who know their stuff.