By Lindsay Harrel
This year, I’ll be attending my third ACFW conference. I’m excited to see my friends, to pitch my latest project to editors, to let loose at the My Book Therapy pizza party, and to learn and have a good time overall. And you know what I have realized?
The crazy sense of nerves I had upon attending my first-ever conference two years ago…that’s gone. It’s been replaced by a sense of calm, excitement, and peace. Because I know that God is going to meet me there, put people in my path who just get me, and allow me to have opportunities I didn’t expect.
So many conference posts deal with helping newbies prep for pitches and such – and those are necessary! But for this post, I’d like to focus on veterans. While the ACFW conference may feel like one big family reunion, I don’t want to forget a few important things. Whether this is your third conference or your fifteenth, I think there are some things we can remember:
• Watch out for the newbies. It may not be your first conference, but it is for others – and many of them will be petrified or just plain lonely. One of the best things we vets can do is give back. I remember many of my friends who reached out and took me under their wing during my first conference. While I was blessed to know others before I arrived in Dallas, others don’t. They show up without knowing a soul. Let’s be kind to our fellow writers, reach out, and give them a smile. You could make the difference between someone’s conference being a depressing disaster and being fabulously sweet.
• Don’t think you can’t still squeeze wisdom from sessions. At ACFW, there are lots of classes that can be helpful in your writing journey – whether you’re unpubbed, agented, pubbed, or mult-pubbed. We’re working in an ever-changing industry, where getting the latest updates from those who know is crucial!
• You can sleep when you get home. Of course, everyone knows his or her own limits, but remember that exuberance you felt upon your first conference, when you stayed up until 2 am chatting with new friends in the hotel lobby? Try to embrace and harness that again! You’re paying a lot of money to be here, so live up every moment you can. You never know when God is going to make that divine appointment.
Lindsay Harrel has a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in English. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lindsay was a 2013 ACFW Genesis Finalist and a 2014 Genesis Semi-Finalist (Contemporary Category). She works in marketing as a copywriter and has worked in the past as a business writer and curriculum editor. Lindsay lives in Arizona with her husband and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).
Wonderful post, Linds! I can’t wait to see you this year! It’s easy to get in our own zone, and I especially liked what you said about conference newcomers. It’s HARD when everything is so new, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed!