Monday, April 24, 2017

Was it worth it?

Mount Hermon Conference Centre
I’ve just returned from attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California and I have been asked (in a nice way) if it was worth the time and money.

I certainly learnt a lot. I chose to attend workshops to do with platform, writing book proposals and ‘one sheets’ (a one page summary—like a back cover blurb). In an Australian Christian writing context we don’t tend to write book proposals or one sheets. I thought this was a good thing as I find them so hard to write. However, I’ve discovered that without them, writers tend to be too vague about their message and their audience.

One of the most valuable exercises I did was to create a character description of my ideal reader. It made me focus on who I was writing for and why. It terms of marketing it helped me to focus on the best way of reaching my ideal reader. Not everyone is going to like what I write so it was good to consider the where—which social media sites are they likely to be on, and the how—how was I going to interact with them.

I also attend a series of workshops on the topic, You Can Write Funny, Even If You’re Not. As a writer of Christian Living material, I like to teach people, but I can get a bit heavy and serious sometimes. So I’m trying to figure out how to throw in a lighter moment to make it easier for my readers to digest the truth I want to give them. I was a bit worried before the workshop, as I’m really not good at writing humour. However, I came away with some techniques that will help my writing.

Mount Hermon Conference Centre
As far as my own publishing journey is concerned I didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked. However, I made a number of valuable contacts with agents and editors and I now have particular people I can send my work to. I also received some good suggestions on how to move forward.

I felt a strong sense of God’s presence at the conference. One of the presenters encouraged us to trust the Sovereignty of God, which was a little humbling because that’s what I tell people to do! Overall, I came away feeling encouraged to continue writing and seeking publication.

As for the question of whether it was worth it? It’s always worth doing what you believe God is asking you to do, regardless of the outcome.

*****

Susan Barnes likes to write devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at abooklook.blogspot.com.au. She is also a school chaplain and pastor's wife.

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great conference, Susan :)

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    1. I began to wonder where Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference was. Mr Google says Calafornia, so now I understand the question in the first paragraph :) Being a Fantasy and Sci-Fi writer, I'd love to go to Realm Makers conference in the States. It would be awesome to meet with a wider group of Christian writers who have a passion for the genre I write in - one day the budget and family responsibilities will allow it.

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    2. I've added in California.

      Hope you get to go to Realm Makers. US Conferences are a great experience.

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    3. And I fixed the mistake in the title - think I was still jet lagged when I wrote this!

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    4. Thanks Susan - good way to be jet lagged :)

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  2. Great post Susan. So good to hear the practicalities of it. Loved it that you had a strong sense of God's presence throughout. It also sounded very worthwhile in lots of ways. I really liked how you ended your blog - that it is always worthwhile obeying God regardless of the outcome. Very true. May it help you reach the mountain tops of your writing journey. :)

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    1. Thanks Anusha. I'm implementing some of the things I learnt but it is a process.

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  3. What an experience! I can't wait to catch up with you and hear more about it. May God continue to use all you learned there and bless us, your readers with it as you write (though I love your manuscripts as they are).

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    1. Thanks Jenny, looking forward to chatting.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experience Susan. I agree that the US way of doing things is quite different to elements in Australia. Looking forward to hearing more specifics one day! God bless you as He leads you in this journey.

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, and it is indeed a journey, sometimes a very slow one!

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  5. Really glad you had this opportunity to go to the conference, Susan. I remember people asking me similar questions about whether a trip I took with my husband to the USA many, many years ago to attend lectures for his Doctor of Ministry was worth it. The fact that I can still remember today some lessons I learnt and experiences I had during that trip show me it certainly was--in all sorts of ways. So maybe all the benefits of your trip won't show themselves immediately either.

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    1. Yes, Jo-Anne, I think the benefits will take a while to see. Just processing what I learnt will take a while.

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  6. Sounds like you had a great time, Susan. And good on you for (maybe) stepping out of your comfort zone and doing workshops that would help you with specific aspects of your writing rather than those that would have just been fun to attend. I'll especially look forward to all of those humorous articles you're going to write :)

    Good on you for being faithful to what God has called you to do. I'd love to go to one of the big Christian writing conferences at some stage.

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    1. Don't hold your breath Nola, waiting for something hysterically funny! But maybe, I can occasionally throw in the odd slightly amusing remark.

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  7. So glad you got to go to the US, Susan. Yes they do things differently but they've been at it longer. And I so agree with working on your book proposals. That really makes you figure out exactly the whole point of the story. And writing the blurb can be intimidating when you have to reduce a whole book to a couple of sentences.I always struggle over them but in the end, it's so worthwhile.

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    1. Thanks Rita. Yes, I didn't realize how fuzzy my thinking was until I had to write about my ideal reader.

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