By Lydia E. Harris, prolific writer and author of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting.
“Cast your net on the other side,” Jesus told his discouraged disciples after they fished all night and caught nothing. They did—and caught more fish than their nets could hold.
Similarly, as writers, sometimes we fish and fish for assignments but catch nothing. Perhaps then we need to cast our nets on another side and attend a writers’ conference. Often the fish are biting there, and writing assignments will be pulled in. “Net”working with authors, editors, publishers, and agents often results in landing a big catch now or in the future.
For example, when I attended an American Christian Writers’ one-day conference, I met Lin Johnson, the managing editor of Church Libraries and Advanced Christian Writer (and now also Christian Communicator). As Lin answered our questions during lunch, I asked, “What are your editorial needs?” I hooked five assignments, which I tackled and completed. The fish were biting at that conference.
Later, at the Oregon Christian Writers’ summer conference, I netted useful information for an assigned profile article about a publishing house. The publisher attended the conference, so I interviewed her there. Plus, she brought the latest issue of Christian Retailing, which featured an article with useful information and quotes for my assignment.
The Oregon conference supplied additional resources to strengthen my article. I snagged a quote from marketing expert Sally Stuart’s talk, interviewed a conferee who had recently published her book through the publishing house, and caught a quote from a Chicago writing instructor. I also cast a line to fish for slant ideas from a seasoned author. When I left, my net bulged with help and valuable information to complete the assignment.
At other conferences, I’ve netted opportunities to write for new publications and caught publishing houses’ interest in my book proposals, articles, and recipes. Another big conference catch was finding an agent.
I’ve learned that writers conferences are excellent fishing holes. Sometimes so many fish bite that our writing nets stretch to bursting. And that’s no fish story.
Lydia Harris, MA in Home Economics, has attended numerous writers conferenes and teaches at them.She has accumulated hundreds of bylines, contributed to 17 books, and writes a bimonthly column titled “A Cup of Tea With Lydia.” Her five grandkids call her “Grandma Tea,” and together they develop and test recipes that are published in Focus on the Family magazines. Lydia wrote the practical and inspiring Bible study, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting.