I’m sitting in a Starbucks at the Phoenix airport where I enjoyed an unexpected night in a something-less-than five star hotel. My new flight has been booked and, Lord willing, I’ll be home soon.
I’ve been in Florida for the past week where I taught at the Florida Christian Writers Conference led by our own Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock. (If you sent me an e-mail, I’ll be responding soon.) It was a great conference.
I bring all this up for a reason. I did something I haven’t been able to do in years: I went to classes. That may not sound like much, but as a guy who teaches and keynotes at conferences and directs Blue Ridge, I seldom get to slip into the back of the room and learn a few new things. This time I had a free day, so I made use of it. I attended Ken Raney’s “Design for Writers” (marketing material, book covers, etc), and Eddie Jones class on generating more sales on Amazon. Both were great and reminded me of what it’s like to be a conferee; what it means to sit in the class and not stand in front of it.
As a conference director, I need such reminders. There is a lot of the work and drama that goes on behind the scenes of a successful conference, and no small amount of stress. Just keeping up with e-mail can become a full time job. Consequently, I find myself removed from the conferee experience. So in Florida, I became a conferee.
And I’d do it again.
I left the classes with refreshed perspective. I enjoyed being a student again.
That’s the thing about being a writer: the learning never stops. I’ve written and published over 3.5 million words, and I’m still in learning mode. I doubt that will ever end.
At BRMCWC, we want our conferees to feel like family, to laugh, to share, to learn and to be encouraged. We do our best to make Blue Ridge a safe environment. Yes, you might get constructive criticism on you work, but that’s what you want. Professional writers deal with it all the time and learn to cope. (Someday I should post some pages from one of my books that an editor has attacked...I mean, edited.
The conferee experience is a great one and is often remembered for years. Some conferees, especially those new to Blue Ridge, arrive a bundle of nerves. I offer this advice: STOP IT. Sure there are some nerves, but there is nothing to feel anxious about. Don’t think of it as anxiety, but as excitement.
I enjoyed sitting in the classes and I hope to do more of it. I have my eye set on several BR classes I hope to attend. Edie and I want you to have the same positive experience. No, not everything goes perfectly. The conference is invested with fallible human beings, just like churches, schools, and every other human institution.
I hope you plan on attending BR2013 and experiencing the same thrill I did when I slipped into those classes at the Florida Conference.
Al Gansky, Director