When I arrived at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer conference today, conference director Lindy Jacobs greeted me as she always does, with her trademark genuine smile marked by her warm and professional manner. She thanked me for returning as a mentor and being on a media panel workshop this year, Panel and Mentoring at OCW Conference and showed me where my commitments for the day would take place in this new venue, the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach. After our pleasantries regarding the conference, she asked me about my Faith & Culture Writers Conference. We both know first hand the work that goes into being a conference director. And her next question is what got me thinking:
“So, how’s the writing coming along?”
Which of course is the perfect question to be asking at a writer’s conference. I shared with her the usual places I have been published, mostly in The Oregonian and mostly my short pieces, and then told her I needed to step that up. I asked her the same question. Indeed, realistically, writing can take a back seat for those planning a writing conference to help jumpstart other people’s writing life.
I have to be so careful of this. I do love helping others with their writing. The two ways I was involved in this year’s Oregon Christian Writers Conference were to be on a panel to discuss Media/Newspaper writing and to be a mentor. It is a joy and an honor.
I met several wonderful folks during the mentoring sessions, who shared with me what they are doing and they asked me questions about my writing and teaching and speaking.
Carol is one who met with me about her nature writing and she shared with me how she loved my blogs about taking my kids on adventures. She so believes in the value of this idea and loves the fact that I do this with my kids. She noted my most recent blog post about my hike to Angel’s Rest Summit,ANGEL’S REST ADVENTURE BLOG POST and all the life lessons I noted in that Summer Adventure with Kids post. Wow, she read my post, recalling to me some of the details she especially enjoyed. Carol also noted my blog post about Yellowstone Park, where my youngest son, then only 6, asked me, “Where are all the yellow stones?”Where are all the yellow stones? and I just had to smile recalling that post from four years ago. It is a snapshot, a moment, and a memory that is captured. And, I was humbled that Carol liked the post and read the others as well.
Carol said she resonated with my message as she too took her kids on hikes when they were growing up, sometimes dragging them against their will initially, but she still persevered. Now, a few years later, her kids love the outdoors. I think she is a kindred spirit for sure.
Another gal I met was Lynn, who was also at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference in April, for which she thanked me for organizing by sending me a hand written thank you note — snail mail. Who does that anymore?
Lynn too mentioned my website and writing, and I again was humbled. When people tell me that my blog and the words I have written resonate with them, it gives me renewed energy and hope to keep on doing what I am doing. Even when I think not very many people are reading my writing, they may indeed be after all.
And, during my journalism panel, a woman was there with her 13-year-old son, whom she called a future journalist. So cute. He wants to write a story about coal being transported from Oregon to Japan. I told him he is not only a future journalist but he is one now. I tried to give him and his mom ideas of where he could get published now, as a 13-year-old. Be the first and the youngest.They told me they appreciated the words and ideas.
So, as I am honored to be asked to speak at writers conferences as well as serve on panels and to serve as a mentor, I am the one who is learning and growing — And reminded that I need to keep on keeping on. That way, when people ask me what I am working on and how my writing is going, I can respond, “great,” and here are the blog posts I have written in the past couple of weeks, and here’s my next book project, which is another question people ask me often.
I still remember the words my freelance writing friend, Patricia Conover, said to me at my baby shower for Gus, whom I was pregnant with at the time, 10 years ago. She said, “Never forget the dream. The words you want to write, and the books you want to birth.”
As keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs said during her keynote address Tuesday night, we need to trust and not fear. Even when we are barren (in our writing), as some women were with regards to having children, we need to give our lives over to God. I loved Liz’s focus on the Holy Spirit. And God’s word. We need to be in His word, and be filled with the Spirit. And write the words He has given you.
Writing conferences are just the place to be reminded of the importance of those words. We are inspired by others who are writing and we are encouraged by old friends we get to see again as we learn of all they are doing. I got to see my friends Matt and Julie and LouAnn and others.
As I got to realize once again, to never forget about our own writing, and to be reminded, you just never know who is reading and being impacted by the words you write.