Sonja Anderson shares her reflection of this year’s conference.
At NCWA’s annual Writer’s Renewal Conference this May, the one word that kept going through my mind was courage. It started the Wednesday before the conference, as a friend shared his fears that he shouldn’t be attending; he was too new to writing, everyone else would be more experienced. As I tried to encourage him, to pass along a little courage, I realized I felt the much same way about the role of critique leader I had been asked to play for the first time. Others were more experienced, and I had published articles, but no books—wouldn’t people be disappointed if they found out that I was new to this?
At the conference, the courage of Dr. Robert Cornuke stood out larger than life. He had climbed mountains, outsmarted authorities carrying guns, searched for Biblical artifacts in a way that most of us can only dream about! As the conference progressed, however, the courage of the attendees inspired me just as much.
There was Laura, who believed in her message to singles so strongly that she had published a book about it with WinePress and is planning speaking engagements in the fall. She moved me to tears at breakfast with her story of courage and trust in God in the face of loneliness and disappointments and scary situations.
Then there were the fellow writers in the group editorial appointments. They bravely pitched their stories and listened well to the straightforward, constructive feedback, even when it wasn’t what they hoped to hear.
Most of all, I admired the courage of the people who signed up for the critique sessions, who showed me actual pages of words that they had so carefully crafted. God’s call was so clearly on their lives and working through their pens.
As the last afternoon critique appointment walked away, I was exhilarated, humbled, and profoundly moved by the display of courage I had just seen, by the mission these writers had to share stories of God’s love, grace, and righteousness with others. I didn’t want it to end.
For the rest of the conference, my thoughts rang with one other word: privilege. What an honor to be part of these writers’ lives, even for a short time. What a privilege to be walking alongside everyone in that banquet hall—all those people who care enough about God’s Word and His call on their lives to spend hours alone with keyboards and pens to shape stories that they pray God will use to transform others’ lives.
Thank you, NCWA leadership, members, and guests, for the warm welcome and opportunities you have provided to me and to my friend, who did feel right at home and had a wonderful experience. May each of us take those tools for success that we have been given, and use them for the glory of God in the days to come!
Sonja Anderson lives in Burien, Washington, and is married with two teenage daughters. She has been writing for about ten years and has published short stories and articles in Cup of Comfort, Children’s Writer, Young Salvationist, Knowonder, and others. She has an EdM in Education and she works in a public elementary school library. Sonja has been an NCWA member since 2008.