Thursday, 1 November 2018

Omega Writers' Conference 2018 Highlights


Report by Paula Vince

Late October is the time for the annual Omega Conference, when writers from all over Australasia come together for a great weekend of fun, fellowship and teaching. This year we gathered at The Monastery, in Adelaide, South Australia. The tranquil gardens were a good backdrop for the buzz of energy and ideas flowing through the Hub and workshops. Then on Saturday evening, we all enjoyed the announcement of the CALEB Awards, and celebrating with the winners and finalists.

Here is my impression of the wonderful weekend, followed by those of several others I've asked to chime in, just to bring you a composite picture of how awesome it was. We hope it will inspire you to consider attending future conferences.

Paula Vince: As I sat in the sessions, I realised how rare it is to receive encouragement designed especially for people who love to write. My soul must have been hungry for it. The keynote speaker, Alex Marestaing, has a compassionate way of addressing the hurts and disappointments we may feel along the way. I love his reminder that when we write, there's often some deeper magic going on than we may even be aware of. And that self-confessed oddballs could consider ourselves 'Outside Voices' that God can use. I'm going to dust off a story I had freezing cold feet about and get back to work.

Carolyn Miller: I really enjoyed meeting so many new people (and catching up with other friends).

Penny Reeve: It was a privilege to to be able to pair up people with editors, publishers or specialists at the Hub. I loved seeing genuine connections being made, ideas launched and writers courageously seeking input into works in progress.

Rosanne Hawke: Omega Conference was a real mix of encouragement, inspiration and learning for all writers, whether they be beginners, emerging or mid-career. I found confirmation for my project and was able to mentor others as well. Great to meet writers who I've only met on Facebook. Hadn't seen Cecily Thew Paterson since she was 17. Great to catch up with publishers and to network. And to enjoy great food and atmosphere at The Monastery.

David Rawlings: It was great to meet the people behind the Facebook names. I'm connected to many other Australian writers, but being able to chat, share and get to know them in person was a privilege.

Marc Jeffrey: The worship on Sunday, along with the devotional about the jar of expensive perfume did my head in. In a good way!

Nola Passmore: I really liked the theme of the conference 'From a Whisper to a Shout' and it's amazing how that kept coming up in the different sessions. One of the things that resonated most with me was that we need to think differently about writing. We tend to think in terms of a whole book or a whole screenplay. But a Facebook post or an Instagram post can impact a lot of people. Don't spend years thinking about what God has whispered to you. Start writing and get it out there.

Adam Collings: Having been involved in Omega Writers for a number of years, I finally made it to conference. It felt like coming home. I was surrounded by friends that I knew, but had never met. The speakers were amazing, the worship was powerful, the food was fantastic and the location was inspirational. I have come home ready to be an outside voice for God and change the world with my words.

Sue Jeffrey: I loved the peace in the venue - beautiful gardens - and the professionalism of the presenters. I learned new things and was able to commune with God. The worship made me cry (in a good way)

Adele Jones: Inspirational. So great seeing people getting brave about shouting what's being whispered into their heart. The Omega Writers conferences always feel like a family reunion!


Kaye Johnson: As a newbie and not knowing quite what to expect I was so encouraged by the weekend. From getting insights into timelines for memoirs, and giving myself permission to feel vulnerable, to listening to God's whisper in my ear, and taking action to shout it from the rooftops! Allowing myself to be unravelled and renewing the affirmation that I am a child of God (thank you Steph and Simon for leading us in worship!) and learning about Outside Voices from Alex, all contributed to a huge learning curve for me. Thank-you everyone for your friendship and encouragement. You have certainly challenged me to put this into practice and just write!

We would encourage everyone to begin saving for next year's conference. They are so well worth attending, if you can possibly make it. And our thanks goes out to the hardworking committee team, everyone who ran a workshop, the publishers and mentors present, the caterers at the venue, and anybody else I might have missed. Not least are all the delegates who put aside a weekend to travel and attend, since rubbing shoulders with others and face-to-face communication is ultimately what makes a good conference great.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives close to the beach, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review.



16 comments:

  1. Thank you Paula for an excellent post. Loved reading of all the viewpoints of conference attendees and hearing about different aspects of the weekend. The pictures are great! Love what Adele says about the Omega conferences being like a family reunion! As Nola mentioned, I loved what Alex said about our writing - that ALL of it is important - it's something that God's been whispering to me all of my life. So it was great to have it confirmed. :) Reading everyone's thoughts about the conference was really refreshing and I find myself nodding! Thanks Paula!

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    1. Hi Anusha, Yes, what can beat a big family reunion with lots of affirmation? I loved Alex's emphasis about all of our writing being important too. Such a good reinforcement that even when we aren't focusing on what we may call the 'big' projects, we are still shining our light. Wonderful.

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  2. So many highlights! (So little sleep ...)

    I think Adam and Adele say it best - conference is a time to meet friends we know but have never met, and it's the best kind of family reunion (it's the one where we don't argue).

    It was wonderful to see you again, however briefly. Hopefully you'll be able to make it to Sydney next year.

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    1. Thanks Iola, it's always lovely to catch up with you in person, and I wish the weekend could have stretched out for longer. I'm putting Sydney in my diary and aiming to get there, although I'm certain I'll be able to pull it off. It's a long time until next year though.

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  3. Super! Thanks for gathering all those testimonials. It was a great time. I hope we can all get together again in Sydney next year.

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    1. Thank you too, Meredith. You must be pleased with the way the whole weekend flowed. Excellent to see so many familiar faces, and I hope you and the committee are all enjoying a well-deserved rest.

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  4. Great round-up of thoughts. Reading all the comments makes me wish I was still there :) Gonna have to go back over my notes soon. So much inspiration.

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    1. I know, me too, Adam! And also wishing I'd been able to spread myself to attend some of the workshops I didn't make it to. Time to go over the notes, as you say.

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  5. Thanks for the wrap-up Paula. I feel like I needed another whole day to catch up with everyone. So hard to fit all those chats in, but all the more reason to go to Sydney next year :)

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    1. It would've been so nice, Nola, to have some of those chats stretched out. Such an intense weekend, with formal sessions plus all the catching up we wish to do. I hope I can make it to Sydney next year.

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  6. Thanks, Paula and others, for this overview of the conference--the first one I have missed in quite a few years. It all sounds wonderful encouragement to keep on 'shouting out those whispers'!

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    1. Hi Jo-Anne, I missed seeing you, after having missed the last few Sydney ones myself. It's so good to say there's always next year, though. And I'm glad we were able to fill you on a few of the themes of this year, and what went on.

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  7. Thanks for this, Paula. It sums up what was a wonderful weekend filled with so many blessings. There were so many ways in which I felt God's affirmation of my writing - and I made some new friends. This was my first Omega conference - and I have already put the dates of next year's on my calendar. See you all there.

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    1. Hi Trevor, it really was a fantastic weekend, filled with so much to take home and ponder. I'm glad your first conference was such a good one. I'm not sure I can make it to Sydney next year, but looking forward to catching up with you up there if we do.

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  8. Wish I could have been there, but your post was a great insight!

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