By Cynthia Ruchti
If this were survey results, and I’d polled hundreds of past conference attendees to ask their answer to the question, “What’s the dumbest thing you ever did at a writer’s conference?” your answer might show up on the list (If you’re a first time attendee, take heart!):
• Brought two suitcases. I’d packed underwear in neither of them.
• Forgot my name when an editor asked.
• Forgot what my book was about.
• Forgot my main character’s name.
• Forgot why I ever wanted to write.
• Didn’t realize until after the agent appointment that I had a nice fat dribble of French dressing on my shirt.
• Didn’t notice my name was spelled wrong on my business card until after I’d aggressively handed them to everyone I met.
• Lost my name badge. Twice.
• Spilled coffee on my dream agent’s shoes.
• Brought my laptop to take notes the efficient way. Neglected to bring my power cord, so it only lasted part of the first day.
• Missed an appointment because I hadn’t changed my watch to the right time zone.
• Missed an appointment because I left my one-sheet and my courage in my hotel room…on the 17th floor…with a slow elevator.
• Introduced myself to someone I’d met at a previous conference. And roomed with.
• Asked if the lady across the table from me was going to eat her dessert or just leave it. Turns out she was the keynote speaker.
I left out the really embarrassing oopsies I’ve heard over the years of conference attendance. Including my own. We’ve all had them–those moments when crawling under a table isn’t protection enough from our conference regret.
But perhaps the dumbest thing I ever did at a conference was assume my faux pas spelled doom to my career as a novelist. Some of the most cringe-worthy moments for me truly did take the path of ancient history, as logic would have told me if I were listening. The people in front of whom my faux pas happened are now friends or colleagues. They may or may not remember the moment. But even if they did, they’ve chalked it up to nerves or an honest mistake or “Isn’t it cute when she’s frazzled?”
One of the benefits of a conference for Christian writers is that grace wins every time. We can’t get out of debts owed, or erase the memory of coffee-soaked shoes, or count on grace to get us through the door if we don’t have our name badges :), but grace covers a multitude of conference dumbness.
Over the course of time, the embarrassing moments we thought eternal in nature may be far more easily forgotten than we could have imagined. Our “I’ll never live this down” story will be outdone by someone else’s.
So, if you’re heading for the ACFW conference in a few days:
Let Grace Reign.
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events. Her latest release is the novel Song of Silence. She’s attending the ACFW conference this year with her name spelled correctly on her business cards, a tube of stain remover, her laptop power cord, and a super-sized batch of grace. You can connect with her at cynthiaruchti.com or hemmedinhope.com.