Before I heard about the ReWrite Conference, I had given up writing.
Bear with me, as I explain.
The entire year before had been this tug of war battle between me and God over whether I not I should continue. Three days after coming back from She Speaks and pitching my book idea to publishers I started a job at Walmart. Now I have nothing against Walmart, or working for a living, but between working four nights a week and homeschooling my son during the day there was nothing left to put into writing. It took me months to write my book proposal, all the courage I could muster to meet with publishers at She Speaks. And just a few months later, I was at the lowest I could have been. Through much prayer and Bible reading, it began clear to me that God was asking me to set my writing aside. Whether it was for a short time, or permanent, I did not know. I just knew I had to leave it in His hands and step away.
So that is what I did. For almost 6 months I didn’t write a word. Every day I prayed. Some days I cried. At times I even thought “I must have been wrong all along, God doesn’t want this from me. This isn’t what He wants me to do” My heart was broken. My confidence non existent.
Then one day I woke up at 3 am with that same quick beating heart feeling, and words swirling in my mind. Stories I had set aside, ideas I thought were long gone, characters speaking to me. For a moment I thought “really God?” The next day I jotted down in my journal thoughts that had come to mind. A few weeks later we had friends visit. My friend asked me what I was doing with my writing. I immediately poured my heart out to her about how I thought God didn’t want me to write anymore. I told her about getting the urge to write again which confused me. She of course encouraged me to seek God, and listen to the nudges in my heart. A few days after she left I started writing again. However before I began, I prayed a prayer that I don’t think I ever prayed before. I told God that my writing belonged to Him and it was up to Him to do what He wanted with it. I said I would write because He asked me to, not because I hoped to get published one day. I also added, that if His desire was to get me published then it was going to have to be His doing completely because I was in no position to do everything that all the experts said I should be doing in order to get published. My life just didn’t allow for promoting myself and creating a following and platform.
From that moment on, I left my writing in His hands and just wrote.
A few months later I received an email that had a link in it for the contest sponsored by the ReWrite Conference. I hadn’t even heard of the conference. When I went to the website the only people I recognized were Esther Federokevich, Lysa TerKeurst and Mary DeMuth. Forgive me for not knowing you, Mark Batterson, Joel Clark and all of the other wonderful speakers that were there. I never even looked at where or when the conference was. I listened to the nudge, and plopped my proposal into the template for the contest and sent it off. As the deadline drew near, I tried not to be obsessive about looking to see if the finalists were posted. It turns out I didn’t need to check the list. Instead of seeing my name on the finalist list, I received a call from Esther Federokevich herself. I honestly thought I was dreaming. Never in my life did I ever think I would hear someone like Esther say to me “I love your book proposal”. In fact I even kept her voice mail for a while and I listened to it over and over just to make sure I had heard her right.
Long story short, Esther encouraged me to attend ReWrite. I wasn’t planning on attending. When I got there I have to admit I felt way out of place. I didn’t think I was up to par with any of the other people there. Most of them were much more confident about their writing. It seemed like many of them had been writing longer, had a fans on Facebook, followers on twitter. They just didn’t seem to have any trouble walking right up to people and asking them questions about the industry. Me on the other hand, I hung in the background like some wallflower at her first middle school dance, worrying about whether her dress is cool enough. I didn’t think I belonged there at all. I felt completely out of place. I didn’t even call myself a writer.
But as the weekend went on, I quickly realized that had been given a great gift. The speakers there were not only informative, but they were accessible. In fact, they wanted to talk with you. They were never too busy to answer a question or offer help. And although the amount of information was a little overwhelming, it was also invaluable. I eventually did come out of the corner and talk with people. I spoke with Joel Clark, Mary DeMuth, and Paul Young. Each of them treated me like one of their peers. I learned so much about writing, publishing and marketing that I know I am prepared to move forward in whatever direction my writing leads.
I am so thankful God nudged me, to enter the contest, to go to the conference, to step out of the corner.
So what did I come away with from ReWrite that I put into practice? What was the most important thing I learned there?
I am a writer.
It is what God wants me to do.
I am sure of that now.
I don’t have to worry about whether or not I am good enough at writing. If I compare myself to others, then I probably am not. God is capable enough. He can do far more than I can ever expect or dream possible.
All I need to do is to leave it to Him and do what He asks me to do.
P.S. Here is a link to a post I wrote right after I received Esther's phone call. It's just another look at how I was feeling then.