BLOGGER: JILL OSBORNE
3 THINGS I WISH I’D REALIZED BEFORE MY 1st MOUNT HERMON WRITERS CONFERENCE
In 2010, I stepped onto the Mount Hermon campus for my first ever Christian Writers Conference. It was one of the best weeks of my life. The valuable skills I learned, the encouraging people I met, and the spiritual guidance I received shaped me into the author I am today. I love Mount Hermon, and, God willing, I plan to come back every year.
But, when I replay the movie of that first week in my mind, I can’t help but wish I could hit the pause button at a few of the more awkward moments and yell out to my newbie self,
“Cut! Can we try that again?”
There’s the scene where I almost went home the first night, because I couldn’t pitch anything—much less an elevator.
There were scenes in the dining room where I kept stuffing my mouth with salad so I wouldn’t have to converse with “scary” agents and editors. (Stomach alert! Don’t ever eat that much salad in one week.)
And then, there was the mid-conference dark moment, when, tired and overwhelmed, I crawled back to my cabin, fished out my eyebrow pencil, scribbled a giant unibrow on my face and pronounced, “I am not a real writer.”
Friends, don’t let this become your movie!
Here are three things I wish I had realized before my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I offer this advice as a gift to you, the first time attendee. Memorize these points. Write them on your forehead if necessary. (It’s a better use for the eyebrow pencil.) Recite them to yourself throughout your time at Mount Hermon.
- You Belong Here
If you find yourself doubting this, consider the facts:
- You’ve been writing, or you’ve been thinking of starting for some time.
- God spoke to your heart and led you to sign up. And then he provided the funds!
- Every published writer began somewhere, and a writers conference was one of their first important steps. Congratulations, this is your first step!
- You Have Something to Offer
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lingo—like what an elevator pitch is (I found out it has nothing to do with pitching an elevator). The people sitting next to you in the dining hall may wear the title of literary agent, editor, or best-selling author of over one-million books, but they’re real people. They struggle with family issues, job stress, and health challenges, just like you do. They might have a killer headache when you arrive on the scene. You can offer a smile, an encouraging word, or even an extra-strength Tylenol. People who have worked in a profession for a long time are energized by those who are just starting out. They need you! So be bold. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know much about this writing business.” You never know where that conversation will lead.
- Your Journey Is Unique
You will hear plenty of helpful advice about next steps to take in your writing career. Some of that advice will work for you, some of it won’t. That’s okay. God’s got your story in the palm of his hand, and thankfully, it doesn’t read like anyone else’s. A short, straight path to a desired destination is not necessarily the most scenic. If your next chapter involves trudging uphill, you’ll build the muscles you need for the next long haul. God will never short-change you in the character-building department. So, stride into that next step, breathe, and enjoy the journey. Remember what it says in Philippians 1:6:
And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Welcome to your first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. This week will be life-changing for you—in a good way! Embrace both the beauty and the chaos in each moment. Don’t forget to laugh. Find a banana slug on the redwood trail. Meet new people and invite them to join you for ice cream or coffee. Be still, and listen for God’s voice.
And come say hello to me during one of the meals! I’ll be the one not eating salad.
If this your first writers conference, what are you most concerned about?
Come meet Jill Osborne at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.