Reflections on a Secular Writers’ Conference: PART TWO
In my last post, I talked about being invited to a secular writing conference in Los Angeles, and accepting the invitation with some trepidation due to an uncomfortable previous experience with a different mainstream conference.
Well, the Genre-LA event didn’t live up to my negative expectations after all. Oh, there were still some people who seemed to be there just to toot their own horns and sell their books. And a few folks, when they realized I was a Christian, politely ended our conversation and moved on, or avoided me altogether.
But many of the faculty members really did seem to want to help writers and readers. And I talked at length with attendees who greatly appreciated that I was interested in helping them—even if I was a Christian. (As far as I could tell, Steve and I were the only born-again believers there.) And Tony Todaro, the director, told me he really wanted the “inspirational” genre to be well represented at the conference.
I taught two workshops: one on “Proofreading like a Professional,” and one on “Writing for the Inspirational Market” (which I co-presented with Steve). I also served on two panels: one on “inspirational writing” and the other on “marketing memoirs.” All were positively received by the attendees. And the other faculty members graciously accepted me as a fellow professional.
I brought my new book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. (I even sold a few copies of it!) I also brought promotional cards for The Christian PEN and the Christian Editor Network. And the word Christian came out naturally in the majority of my conversations. But no one treated me like I was a mutant from outer space, or acted like I didn’t belong there.
I left that conference feeling greatly relieved. And the next day I received e-mails from attendees and faculty members from the conference that were friendly and encouraging.
Now, I’m not planning to replace my beloved Christian conferences with secular ones. I love getting together with people who share my beliefs and boost my faith. I enjoy being a blessing to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and getting blessed by them in my own writing journey.
But I’m starting to wonder if the Lord might be leading me to add one or two mainstream writers’ conferences to my schedule. Perhaps to broaden my horizons as a writer, as a person, and even as a Christian. Maybe to broaden the scope of my readership. Possibly even to provide opportunities for me to be a blessing to people who would never consider attending a Christian writers’ conference … for much the same reasons I didn’t want to attend a secular one.
If you’ve been to Christian and/or mainstream writers’ conferences, I’d love to hear about your experiences and perceptions of them. Please leave a comment below if you’d like to share your thoughts with others. If you’d prefer to do so privately, feel free to e-mail me (directly or through the Contact page of this website).