I remember the first post I wrote for this blog. I was nervous (I think it may have been the first blog post I'd ever written) but I was also excited. This was something new on the Australian writing scene - a group of writers with a common goal and shared faith, writing together, striving together to build community. Until this blog (and it's accompanying Facebook group) appeared on the scene, writing faith inspired work felt incredibly lonely in Australia. There were writers, we knew each other existed somewhere, but struggling through the shelves of bookstores it was hard to locate books by artists from this side of the globe.
But once the online writing community started, it began to blossom. The situation for emerging and established faith writers is quite different now to what it was. Distance and isolation (be it due to location or situation) have been reduced and connections have been made possible. There are numerous online writers groups for people writing faith inspired work, each with it's unique angle and purpose, but all designed to support and encourage one another. There are also Yahoo groups, discussion groups and local voices growing in the blog-isphere.
CALEB Conference emerged out of the Word Writers Fair - an event I've been privileged to attend twice, and will be attending again in the future. Online relationships were strengthened with discussions and workshops, and I believe the Australian faith inspired writing community is stronger now than it ever has been. The evidence is on in the book shelves of the Christian bookstores: Aussie books easier to find, more little Aussie symbols next to familiar books in catalogues, and authors standing by and supporting each other using the most powerful marketing strategy ever - WORD OF MOUTH.
For me, watching this growth of relationships and networking, both connected with this blog and the many, many sprawls beyond, it has been exceptionally encouraging. I feel less like a lonely little writer pushing against a tide of anonymity, more a part of a wider family. So as I write this post, the last CWD post from me for the time being, I want to say Thank You to the writers I've been privileged to meet and write with in this context. Here's some of what I've learned from you:
* Never give up. Even when it feels terribly hard and painfully lonely, there are other writers feeling exactly the same and when we push through, and keep going, it's worth it in the end.
* Aussie writers write good fiction! (Yep, I'll admit it, even I was dubious! But there are some local wordsmiths out there brave enough to tackle faith related themes and they are worth the search.)
* Networking pays off. It pays off in sales, but even more importantly in sharpening skills, promoting excellence and producing a more polished product.
* Stay true to your first love. Anyone reading back over the blog posts here will notice a common theme: writers striving against the pull of the world to write for the original Creator. It's not easy, it challenges the very motivations behind why we write, but many, many CWD posts echo the blessing received in this obedience.
* Stay connected. Whether it's here, or on other writing blogs, online groups, at writing conferences and get-togethers. It's fellowship; important, valuable and rich.
More Than A Mouse and Wonderfully Madison. She recently returned from a two week trip to India with Stop the Traffik and is hoping to seek publication for her YA novel on the subject next year. For more information about Penny, or her books, visit www.pennyreeve.com