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
Legacy', Greenfield '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. Australia