Christa Bartlett shares her impressions and lessons from NCWA’s conference.
Within moments of receiving my conference packet, my schedule was covered in scribbles and stars. I circled the sessions that sounded most suited to my beginner’s level, crossed out those lacking cleverly-written descriptions, and finally chose sessions promising to really stretch my writing muscles.
I wanted to optimize my time, and glean from as many professionals as possible, yet I wasn’t delusional enough to consider the classes for accomplished book authors or speakers. First came the group editorial appointments. In a burst of optimism, I’d signed up to present to Vance Fry of Thriving Family. I practiced my concise, catchy pitch (not wanting to be one of those time-hogging ramblers), and found encouragement and hope in the feedback from Vance and other writers around the table.
The next day, I attended Vance’s session on “Targeting Magazines” and immediately wanted to rewrite the proposals he’d already taken from me. So, I learned that second-guessing yourself goes with the writer’s territory, and that there’s always room for improvement.
With only a few articles and small pieces published, and a few diverse projects on my back burner, I’ve resisted the command to develop a platform. I guess I’m still in the taste-testing phase. Last year, on a whim, I attended a card-writing session and submitted some ideas to Dayspring, who bought one. I don’t think that’s going to be my platform though.
This year, I found Katara Patton’s “10 Things Not to Do” session inspiring enough to make me want to nourish my skeletal fiction concept, and revive a neglected devotional project. Can I build a platform strong enough to support my eclectic writing interests? Only God knows. As Dr. Cornuke said in one of his riveting presentations, “Sometimes the greater discovery is in the search; just be obedient and persistent, and you’ll find what He wants you to do.”
The last impression I’ll share comes from Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s session on crafting Bible studies. It seemed simple at first, but what struck me was the emphasis placed on meditating on God’s words and paying particular attention to a word or phrase that “shimmers.” This of course is subjective, as our class discovered. In a way, even though I’m not a Bible study writer, the time spent in that class “shimmered” among all the other moments spent at the conference, because it pointed me back to the most important Inspiration.
I may dream of impacting thousands of hearts with my writing, but if I’ve stopped allowing God to impact my own with His, I’ve missed the point. I may determine to carve out time in my day to write, but if my five-year old son sees more of me behind the laptop than engaged with him, I’ve missed out on some shimmering memories that will last longer than a byline in a magazine.
I am trying to capture the family moments that “shimmer” this summer, as my husband and I anticipate our longed-for second child arriving in September. So yes, I’m trying to do a little writing, and I’m thankful for the inspiration I received at the conference – but the message that shimmered for me at Writer’s Renewal (and since then) is Hope. Hope in the Lord. The secondary things will be added when I seek Him first.
Christa Rose Bartlett is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom from Woodinville, WA. Originally from Ontario, Christa was the Inventor Relations Manager at Spin Master Toys in Toronto before her son was born. Married for 16 years, Christa has written for Marriage Partnership and Thriving Family magazines. She has an article coming out in December’s Clubhouse magazine. Christa has been an NCWA member since 2009.