Tomorrow I leave for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Indianapolis. While most writers who attend such conferences make some connections, get some manuscript requests from editors and agents, and learn a bit more about their craft, I think most of them will also admit that the primary reason for attending such a conference is to meet and hang out with a group of people who share their passion.
Let’s face it, writing, especially fiction writing, is a lonely profession. We don’t meet in offices and hang out at the coffee pot to talk about the weather or our kids. Most of us sit at a computer in our homes and attempt to create an entire world with little help from the outside. And the vast majority of writers have a day job. We shut ourselves off to the world every night while most folks are sitting in front of the TV.
I’m not complaining. I take pride in doing something well. I’ve long ago come to the conclusion that, if you want to be successful, you can’t be satisfied with an 8 hour a day job. I read facebook posts every day from people who hate their jobs but do nothing to change their situation. Watching TV won’t do it, trust me.
I don’t hate my day job, either, but it’s not The Dream. I worked hard for my engineering degree as well. It kept me out of the auto plants in southeast Michigan and I’ve never had to work an outdoor job in the heat of summer or cold of winter. And yes, I could live quite comfortably with what I make as an engineer without surrendering another two hours of my day.
But my definition of success has nothing to do with money. We get one shot at this life, 70 to 80 years for most of us. We have a list of things we’d like to do during that time. Writing novels happens to be on mine (publishing novels would be nice, too). I’d hate to get to 80 and realize I’d never made a real attempt at pursuing my dream. If I had to guess, I’d say 90% of the population never chases their dream. Based on the number of self-help gurus out there, I’d say I’m pretty close.
So of the remaining 10%, maybe 1% of those are novelists, even fewer are Christian novelists. It’s a select group. Published or unpublished, they are the most fascination people in the world to me. So, yeah, if I can hang out with a few hundred of them, I’m gonna jump on it.
It costs money to go to a writer’s conference. You can drop $1000 on fees, travel, and the hotel before you’ve bought your first overpriced Starbuck’s coffee. The vast majority of those in attendance won’t make $1000 from their writing this year. Most will make nothing. The successful novelists among us might make enough to cover a few conferences. Yeah, it’s a hobby.
But some do make enough doing what they love to call it a living. At least a working retirement income (which is what I’m shooting for). But when you meet these folks and spend a few hours talking about their craft, money rarely enters the conversation. Their faces light up over topics like character development and scene structure. Nerds. Every one of us.
And I’m proud to be counted as one of them.
Seeya in Indy!