Wow. Has it already been eleven days? It seems like yesterday that I was turning onto the highway toward my fourth ACFW conference! And this year, it came full circle...as my first conference was in the same place...Indianapolis. It is at that first conference that I pitched the same characters (cannot call it the same book, now,after three years of rewrites), met the first of my many friends and co-Alleycats, and basically fell in love with the writing community.
The difference between the last 8 hour drive to Indy in 2010, and this one, is I drove it alone this year...didn't drag my family of five(was expecting our fourth), and pawn them off at the Indy zoo, while I ventured to the Hyatt. This year, I was alone with Jesus, listening to His music, and anxiously looking forward to wrapping my arms around my sweet sweet friends.
I thought I could beat the odds, because I didn't believe they were really keeping track. My biggest excuse being that I was keeping up with traffic...were they going to ticket all of us? But in the end, the ugly truth flashed in front of me and I was not keeping up with the expectations of the law enforcement. I had raced ahead, only to feel the big fat EXPENSIVE slap of defeat.
After attending four conferences, and looking back over how far I've come (maybe not to publication, but to some sort of maturity in the process)...I realize how that traffic incident is a mirror of the writing journey as I first embarked upon it:
Beat the odds: When I wrote my first story, and began to dabble in the writing circles, I honestly thought I would not fall into the "norm" of a long journey toward publication. I poo-pooed the idea of putting my first book in a drawer never to see the light of day. And I thought, "I will show them" when it came to the extensiveness of such an endeavor as publication. Just like my zipping by the warning signs on the road, I zipped by the words of mentors and authors who said, "Writing is not for the faint at heart."
Keeping up with traffic: When I first stepped into an ACFW conference, and pitched my novel, and compared my notes with others, hearing what agents and editors had asked for, wondering why I didn't get asked for that...I began to try and keep up with the traffic so to speak. I decided to write something else, to enter contests, to put that long list of awards beneath my name, to be sure I stalked the white board at the appointments desk each year and rack up the requests. EVEN IF MY STUFF WASN'T READY...I was not going to be left behind without success.
Facing the Ugly truth: And that truth, just like the failure of maintaining the expected speed on the highway, the ugly truth of my writing journey before this conference, was that all those attempts, all those written words, ALL those rejections, pointed to the truth that I just wasn't ready. I didn't meet the expectations of the editors, and I paid the price of a wounded ego.
This year, after much rejection under my belt, I realize that the ugly truth of trying to beat the odds and speed along in striving toward publication, the ugly truth that I tried to keep up with "traffic" or the success of others, and facing the ugly but WONDERFUL truth that I just wasn't ready before, has led me to a place where cruise control in God's plan is so much more satisfying. I continue to see the lessons he had taught me during the self-induced race before. And now, I am ready to shout out and claim this journey as uniquely my own, at my own God-induced speed!
This year, I leave behind another ACFW conference knowing the importance of abiding, giving my journey to God, and realizing that publication is not the proof of my gift, but a fruit among many on the writing branch in my heart. Yes, there is always that niggle of comparison, that shadow of regret, but if I shake it off, point my heart toward the LIGHT of God's Grace, and release the pressure on that gas pedal toward success, He'll guide me down this road of my dream at His Most Perfect Pace.
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.