It feels like I might have my fingers on the wrong keys a bit today. It’s a four-hour flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Phoenix, Arizona and with the start of Memorial Day Weekend every single seat was filled. I’m glad to be back home again after five days at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. If you haven’t ever been to this particular writer’s conference, I’d encourage you to consider coming next year. It has grown to become one of the larger Christian writer’s conferences. Last year, they had about 275 and this year they had over 400 attending the conference. In addition to those 400 people, a large faculty attended the conference. Why do you care about the size of the faculty? It gives you much more opportunity to see and meet different types of professionals and learn from their experiences.
Tucked into the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, the Ridgecrest Conference Center is one of two large Baptist conferences in the United States. It is almost magical in terms of the facility and the staff. Because I’ve been going to this conference for several years, it’s almost like old home week for me to greet some of the staff members of their bookstore and other places. While the place doesn’t always matter for these writers conferences, it is a factor in your consideration.
My bent in these settings is to focus on the various people who are attending and also to get to spend a few moments with the various faculty members. Some people return to this conference each year while for at least half of the participants, this conference is their introduction to the world of writing. I love their wide-eyed excitement. Most of them have planned for certain things to happen at the conference. For example, they have written a book and they plan to sell that project—or at least interest a particular editor. After about the third day, most of them have radically shifted those expectations and understand they came to the conference for a completely different unplanned reason.
Hopefully when you attend these conferences, you learn that editors don’t have all of the answers. That editors are human beings and make mistakes. Yet you’ve learned to listen to our experiences and our insight because we have been around in this business for a while and do have some valuable insight for your own writing life. For the next few entries, I plan to give you some details about my time in the Blue Ridge Mountains.