In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. –Proverbs 16:9
It’s been a year since I attended the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference in Asheville, NC.
Back then, I was just a government employee who loved to write. I arrived at the conference with a fist full of short stories and an idea for a book, hoping to find someone who would, well, recognize my incredible untapped potential and launch me to stardom with a multi-book deal and million-dollar advance!
…Or at least look at my book proposal.
But there was none of that.
They liked my writing well enough, but weren’t looking for what I was peddalin’ if you know what I mean.
On the final afternoon of the conference, I sat down in a common area to take stock of the good things that had happened, and to thank the Lord for the people I’d met and the terrific classes I’d attended. I remembered, somewhat remorsefully, that I’d told God I’d let Him set my agenda and arrange my appointments. He hadn’t done a very good job, in my opinion, but I choked out a “thank you,” and contemplated skipping the closing banquet in favor of a good night’s sleep.
That’s when fellow writer Linda Rondeau sat herself down beside me and asked, “So, what do you write?”
“Personality features,” I replied.
I’m still not sure why I said that. I’d been touting myself as a writer of contemporary parables throughout the conference, although I really do enjoy writing about people. [Lesson one: Be true to yourself.]
She nearly danced with excitement, and said, “I know someone with a great story you might be interested in!”
And that’s how I first heard about Joe Tutt.
Long story short, I went to the banquet, learned all I could about his story: Good cop, framed and found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, sentenced to prison with nefarious characters, some of whom he’d arrested during his nearly 20 years on the force.
What’s not to love?
Four weeks later I was on a plane to Naples, FL to hear his story first-hand.
Joe turned out to be quite charming, and his story was even better than the banquet-table version. I took the task and started writing immediately. Over the next few frustrating months, I tried to balance a full-time job and family PLUS writing in my “free time,” which didn’t work at all. [Lesson Two: Ya gotta sleep.]
So I quit my job and spent the rest of the year on this book, and today, as I peruse the nearly completed project, I think it’s got a shot—if I do say so myself.
Now here we are, one year later, and I’m heading back to the conference Sunday, this time as a full-time writer. I carry with me a completed proposal, business cards, “one sheets,” an elevator speech to practice, and a giant sack of hopes and dreams…and I’m frightened out of my wits.
But do you know what propels me forward?
Over the year, as I’ve chronicled this journey and shared my doubts and short-comings, I’ve received so much encouragement and support on FB, on my blog, and in personal emails, that I can’t imagine NOT going. From my writers’ group friends who spurred me on nearly ten years ago to get going, to the gang at the office who practically kicked me out the door (not because they wanted me gone, but because they want to see me succeed) and even designed a logo for my new business, I’ve been blessed with the best friends anyone could hope for.
I may not come back with an agent or a publisher, but regardless of my success there, I’ve learned more in this year about writing and publishing than I could ever have hoped. Writing is my calling, and I’m sticking with it. Thank you all, for helping me to take the leap.
Watch this space next week as I learn where my next steps will be heading…