Conference Reflections: “Connections” by Marlene Anderson

Marlene Anderson shares her 2012 NCWA Renewal conference experience.

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I walked into the front doors of Overlake Church and was immediately greeted with a hug from someone I had met at last year’s conference, a friendship maintained despite distance. As I continued into the conference center after registration, I was met and greeted by other friends – and always with a hug.

This meeting and greeting continued as I scurried to reach the bathroom – a must after commuting from La Conner with morning coffee. It wasn’t just people who I had met at prior conferences, but people within our own NW Christian Writers Association. There is little time at monthly meetings to get to know each other better. What a wonderful way to start a day. What a wonderful way to start a conference.

When Connie asked if I would write a blog posting about what I took away from the conference, my immediate thought was “connections.” While I certainly learned a lot from the workshops and panel discussions, it was the people themselves that left an afterglow in my heart and continue to inspire me to write.

As I listened to the stories of individuals pitching their books and ideas to the editors and from the agents themselves, I was reminded of why I was supposed to write. The conference left me with inspiration and motivation. We are challenged to tell and commissioned by God to share our stories.

These are stories – yours and mine – that speak to courage and struggle and despair and hope; stories that can touch the spirit and heal the wounded heart. I was encouraged to hear from the panel of experts that while we need to be creative in our writing, it was important to tell our stories in our own voice.

Be genuine – vulnerable – true to who you are. It was also encouraging to hear them say they wanted us to succeed and were there for us. They encouraged us to re-submit proposals after making corrections suggested by them. And never give up.

I am challenged by social media and computer internet technology, but was reminded that it is a part of the writer’s world, just as blogging and e-books are expanding the world of reading. I appreciated the workshops that spoke to these trends. I think there are probably other people like me who are technically challenged. At times I feel I have landed on Mars. (Hummm – is that a story in the making?)

I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my thanks to everyone at NCWA who planned, organized, sweated, spent long hours praying and doing in order to have this event happen. Thank you to all the volunteers who were everywhere and doing everything. Thank you, God, for the commission to write.

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Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC,  is a licensed counselor, author, speaker, and retreat and workshop leader. She has worked in both clinical and educational settings as a college teacher, therapist and facilitator of psycho-educational classes.  Click here to visit her website.

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