12 Comments

The Best Choice

If you've ever been to a writer's conference, this image will seem pretty familiar, I'll bet

I’m a writer’s conference junkie. It’s an expensive habit, but I can’t help it. Getting that many people together in the same place who have a passion for the same form of art and ministry is just too tempting for me to skip.

I’m freshly home from a local conference—the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s conference, and as I seem to be developing a habit of doing when I get home from such things, I’m blurting my heraldic advice.

If you’re a writer, find a way to go to conferences.

In an age where communication has become increasingly impersonal with snippet-conversations via tweets, likes, status updates and their ilk, the face-to-face interaction with real people who have the clout to perhaps make dreams into realities is something I can’t even quantify. I won’t blather on and on here about how my agent and editor appointments went at this last conference, but the short version is this: The ratio of people introduced to my project to positive responses at a conference blows the same ratio from electronic, faceless submissions out of the water. If I could, I would never again submit a novel to a publisher without seeing them at a conference. (At an easy $750-$2000 expense per excursion, though, that possibility is remote.)

Something interesting that struck me at this conference, though, was the way the world of writing can present a writer with so many avenues to ply her craft. You can make a full time effort of submitting magazine articles. You can write novels. You can write non-fiction. You can tackle screenplays. And on, and on, and on. This is especially problematic for me from a temptation standpoint, because I am one of those people who wants to try a lot of things. As it is, I write fiction, I illustrate, I dabble in music, and I’ve got a real bug at the moment to churn out a screenplay, and some very influential folks (thanks to this conference) cheering me on to do so. But as the old saying goes…you can’t do everything, but you can do something, and do it well.

It makes me wonder about Jesus during his time on earth. He had the power and authority to heal any hurt borne by any mortal on this earth. I often hear skeptics ask why Jesus didn’t do more good while he was here among us. Why he didn’t do mass healings and whatever else he could cram into his lifetime to make people’s lives better, more bearable, less painful. Certainly, Jesus was capable of doing “good works” by the truckload. But I also believe he didn’t, because he was focused on the mission. Focused on the best, most important thing God the Father had given him to do while he was here. I can’t help but wonder, was he tempted to slip off track and ease the suffering of every one of those made in his image he could get his mortal legs to carry him to?

For those of us who have multiple areas of interest, I think we face a similar temptation, though to a lesser scale and a smaller consequence. Having multiple areas of ability tempt us away from really focusing, really honing the area God would have us cultivate to excellence. There are many good things in this world. Some prove to be our missions. Others prove to be distractions.

Where would we be if Jesus had decided he wasn’t interested in drinking the cup of crucifixion and the redemption of man, but instead wanted to seek out every cripple, blind person, and sick child on earth and heal them? Theologically, I doubt such speculation is actually sound, but bear with my analogy. When we run from project to project, from area to area, we risk missing the great thing the Lord wants to do through us for the forest of good things we could try, and even perhaps do fairly well.

As I forge onward into this fall and the multitudinous changes I have on life’s horizon, I pray I will have the wisdom to choose the places I focus my energies well. And I pray I have the character to do every act, even the humblest ones, that the Lord calls me to.

About Rebecca Minor

Rebecca P Minor draws perspective from her pursuit of various art forms, including writing, drawing, and music (singing mostly, though there was a time when a trombone figured in.) A 1997 graduate from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Becky earned a BFA in animation. Since then, she has worked as a character animator, a freelance artist, an art teacher, and most importantly, a wife to her husband Scott and mother of three boys. She is in the process of republishing her current body of work. The first installment of The Windrider Saga, Divine Summons, is available as an ebook novella on Amazon. She also has short stories available under the umbrella of The Windrider Canticles.

12 comments on “The Best Choice

  1. Great post, Becky. Thanks.

  2. Becky, I’ve let my other interests (painting, knitting, cross-stitch, etc.) fall by the wayside as I concentrate more and more on writing. However, I’m like you–would like to do a little of it all. I’ve written a book of devotions, a YA historical novel, and a thriller (that might fall under sci-fi). I have an idea for a YA sci-fi series and an idea for an adult mystery. I’m really beginning to think it’s okay. Many writers do not stay strictly within a genre. Pen names have been used by many well-known writers who wished to branch out. (Like Agatha Christie writing romance under the name Mary Westmacott.) As a friend once said, “It doesn’t matter what path we choose as long as we serve and honor God.” (That’s the second time I’ve used that quote today!)

  3. I’m glad the conference was such a wonderful experience for you!

  4. Yup. That is the toughest part: figuring out where to put the bulk of your energies. Too many flit from this to that to the other when they’d get a lot more useful stuff done if they just stayed focused.

    • Focused is the issue, isn’t it? We live in a world of too many choices sometimes, don’t we? Heavens, even if you want a sandwich, you have 6 bread options at Subway. 😀

  5. My aim is to attend a conference next year. But even then, figuring out which one is the best fit and price tag for me. Then of course I still have to pull it off. With a limited budget, soon-to-be 5 kids, a Husband working full time and only one car… well, it could be tricky.

    I love doing a little of lots of things. I enjoy the variety. And I enjoy doing tons of things that I rarely have the time for any more, for all my best intentions. In the end, I agree, there is a balance of “Good”, “Better” and “Best” things to focus on. I think one of the biggest personal tests is learning to weigh the options, and when we find “Best” actually sticking with it. These days, it’s easy to be sidetracked by dozens of good things that fill our time and can keep us from doing the best things.

    Good luck with those publishers and contacts you made!

    • Amen to the statement that little good things have a way of derailing the best things! (And the idea that social media is a good thing is still up for debate, isn’t it? Lol.) I pray you will be able to get to just the right conference for your stage of career and life. Whenever you get to go, I know it will bless you.

      • Thanks! And with any luck, I’ll have a contract before I go… and at the snail’s pace I’ve been writing lately, I won’t have anything new to pitch. lol Oh well, I’d still love to go and learn.

        And about the social media – I read a refreshing blog post about it today that said to make sure it’s not taking all your writing time. The point of social media isn’t to go chasing the fans, but to provide awesome content in what we do (blog/facebook or whatever one or two avenues we enjoy and can do well), then provide the “like” button. If the readers truly enjoy what they find, they’ll share and come back for more.

        Because I totally know what you mean – it can be very time consuming.

  6. Congrats on making good use of conference time, Becky, and on your new job!
    I hear your point about focusing, but I know someone who would say if we are given an ability by God, we are meant to use it. I’ve always argued that multiply-gifted people would never sleep if they put all their talents to “good use.” Perhaps Ren is right, and it is a matter of balance. Perhaps it’s also about “seasons” – a time for writing over singing, or knitting over drawing for a season of ministry.
    I’ve been reading Luke, and I’ll be reading with a slightly different perspective now. Thanks!

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