My Visit to The Seed Company: Part One
Last spring, I got an e-mail inviting me to speak at a writers’ conference in Texas the last week of July. Not all that unusual for me—I do about six to eight conferences a year these days. But this one had a twist. Actually, a few twists.
First, I had never met Jan Matthews, the woman who invited me. (Most of my “gigs” are a result of someone seeing me speak at another conference, or return visits to conferences I’ve already been to.) But she had a copy of my “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” book and thought I’d be a good fit for them. (So much so that Jan tried numerous times to contact me, but for some reason her e-mails kept getting returned undeliverable … yet she refused to give up, certain I was God’s choice for this.)
Second, I usually have more time to prepare because most writers’ conferences plan their faculty well in advance. I only had a few months to get ready for this one.
Third, this conference would be for writers and editors who worked for a company. All of the writers’ conferences I’d spoken at were gatherings of freelance authors who are writing with the goal of publication—whether in print or e-book form, commercial or subsidy, books or magazines.
Fourth, this conference was for an organization I’d never heard of: The Seed Company. It’s a division of Wycliffe, which of course I am familiar with. Jan included in her e-mail invitation a link to their website (www.theseedcompany.org), and what I discovered fascinated me. The Seed Company does accelerated Bible translation, with the goal of providing at least some portion of God’s Word in every single heart language on the planet, within this generation. Awesome!
Eager to be a part of this exciting project, I immediately accepted Jan’s invitation. She told her boss, Kim Clement, and both of them expressed tremendous enthusiasm, making me feel warmly welcomed.
Wanting to choose workshops that would be appropriate for this particular audience, I asked Kim and Jan to send me samples of what their writers and editors were doing. They mailed me a few copies of their SeedLinks magazine, some Project Updates, and last year’s annual report. Man, was I blown away! Everything looked extremely professional—and beautiful. Thick, glossy paper for the magazine and annual report, color photos and graphics on everything, well laid out, easy-to-read fonts … and excellent writing, very well edited.
I actually gulped. What on earth would I be able to teach these people who were already doing such wonderful work?
Jan had originally contacted me thinking I could speak about PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling). But then I found out that they use The Associated Press Stylebook, not The Chicago Manual of Style, with which I’m far more familiar. And that they have an in-house style guide that spells out the rules their writers and editors are supposed to follow. I didn’t want to waste their time (and money) teaching something their writers and editors could so easily look up for themselves.
So I went through my notes for all of the workshops I’ve presented at writers’ conferences over the years. Other than a talk about various levels of editing (which, based on their samples, was something their people already did well), I didn’t find anything that I thought would specifically benefit this particular group of people.
To be honest, I kinda panicked.
[To find out what happened next, check out Part Two of this blog next week!]