Learning the Craft

When my life took an unexpected turn late 2016 I realized it was one of those “now or never” times to invest in my passion to write.  I wanted to write more, and learn to write better. One year ago I flew into Orlando and my cousin drove me to Lake Yale for my first Writer’s Conference.

IMG_3488I was nervous, overwhelmed, unsure of what was ahead, and alone. This was a whole new world to me. I knew no one. I did not know the language or the the culture. I jumped into the pre-session which was probably a bit too advanced for me, but there I was – sink or swim! Good thing I enjoy swimming.

As that session ended I met other “newbies”. What a comfort it was to learn their names and find that amidst the larger group that had been together for years, there were others as green as me. Together we navigated the 8 am to 10 pm schedule of sessions, shared insights we heard, figured out terms and made it through our rookie year.

Coming home I felt like I was returning from an alternate reality. Though I was a novice writer I could not find words to express what I had experienced. It took me months to sort through my notes and consider my next steps.

One of my new friends invited me to the St David’s Writers Conference in June. Jerry joined me. Knowing just a little of how things would run and a couple of names enabled me to engage more with the people and material. I found I could begin to filter what I needed to embrace, and what I could let go.

I joined a monthly critique group that shapes and hones my skills.

A year later here I am, back in Florida on the eve of my third Writers’ Conference in one year. Feeling more confident this year I even entered a few submissions for various contests. I am rooming with a friend who is a published author. I am bountifully blessed for these opportunities, for my new writing pals, and for a job that allows me to implement these new skills.

Cheers to the new people I will meet this week, the sessions I will attend and the new things I will learn this week. I look forward to meeting some of this year’s newbies and assuring them that they belong.

 

A Break to Refocus

If you have followed my blog for some time, you know that I have sometimes had a gap of time in between posts. Let me tell you about this last one.

I enjoy writing. It is a way that I can process experiences and thoughts. It is also a way for me to keep record of the ways God has moved and worked, or things He has taught me. I have been an on again off again journaler. By putting much of my journaling into an electronic format I can have it almost anywhere I am, and I don’t have to recall which of the several journals I’ve started but not completed contain what I am looking for. So the bottom line is I began to blog because it was helpful to me.

Sometime along the line others began to read some of what I wrote and I began to get some encouraging comments. I am grateful for those, and they do truly encourage me (though I am not so naïve as to believe that everything I write people will agree with!). This has caused me to want to invest more time into writing, and to periodically pursue a contest or seminar to improve my skills.

That is all well and good, but it’s also where the not so good part crept in. I began to place my value on how many people liked or commented on a post. Furthermore, when a post I thought was one of my best received little to no readership or feedback I would get mopey and begin to beat myself up.

I played for a time in those murky waters, before God redirected my focus. If truly I was writing to record for myself (and anyone else who cared to read) about His faithfulness and goodness then why did likes and feedback from others matter?   Were the lessons still as valuable to me? Of course!IMG_5530

So I took a break from writing publically to adjust my attitude personally and spiritually. I think I am ready to be back on track now. This seems to be a theme of something God is teaching me in a variety of ways in recent months – through multiple Scriptures – to keep my eyes/focus on Him!

If you are blessed or encouraged by anything I write, I thank God for that. I would also ask you to pray for me, that in all I do and say, I keep my eyes on Jesus!