Thursday was a weird day. I ended up feeling under the weather. I think I picked up a little bug somewhere along the way. Fortunately, I felt better throughout the day, but I also didn't sleep well, so that didn't help. Between that, my recently-acquired road anxiety and my first pitch appointment coming up that very day, I was a bit of a mess.
The pitch was...not great. (lol) I did ramble a bit, so that was my fault. The agent decided to pass on my story, which was okay, and she was very nice about it. But a comment she made about it stuck with me and gnawed at me all day until by that evening, it was a very sore wound.
Thursday night I sat back and watched some well-known, well-loved, well-received authors interact with each other and their readers. And I suddenly felt very alone, unseen, and unworthy. The agent's words came back to me about my work and it hit me that I was never going to be able to do what they were doing. I was never going to be able to write stories with the depth and emotion of theirs. I was never going to be able to speak to audiences with such engaging and thought-out answers. What was I even doing there?? (For the record, the agent never said anything rude or mean! She just stated an opinion about how I wrote something.)
That night, before going to sleep, I was feeling very emotional and strained. Like I always do, I had to pour out my thoughts onto my journal before I let it all consume me. Once I did that, I determined that this was not going to dictate my whole weekend. Friday would be a better day.
And it was.
Thursday afternoon I got to hear the keynote from Frank Peretti himself! (NYT bestselling author of This Present Darkness) His speech on short-term and long-term mindset and goals was so good, and he was SO entertaining! I could've listened to him for hours.
Friday was the first full day of workshops and they were amazing. Allen Arnold started his three-part session about creating WITH God, not just for Him. He also spoke in depth about how we are sons and daughters of God, created in His image, thus made to be creative. Very inspiring and motivating. Nadine Brandes had a great class on The story of Behind the Story-all about how life makes us better storytellers and there's no greater story than the one we're living now.
But it was Nadine's first class that really made an impact for me. "How to Pitch Your Book Without Sounding Like A Robot" wasn't technically supposed to be an inspiring class. But she spoke at length about confidence and said "If your confidence is in your writing, you're going to be a wreck." (DING DING DING! That was the bell going off in my head.) My confidence MUST come from Christ.
How did she know, months in advance when the schedule was put in place, that I would need to hear that message in that very moment??
She also had some practical help for pitching a story that I was able to use a couple hours later, which I went to a couple hours later. And it went much better. (Sigh...)
Also, while I was waiting for my pitch appointment, (the agent was running behind) a kind, friendly lady sat with me and chatted casually for a few minutes. It was a much-needed, much-appreciated distraction, and as soon as I track down her last name, I will let her know!
The Awards ceremony was that night, and despite all the stress my costume had caused me, it worked out so well and it was a lot of fun checking out everyone else's costumes and being catered a delicious meal. Even though Emily didn't win her category (Flash Fiction) I loved hearing her name called as a finalist. And she got a pin!
Saturday was a good day overall. No appointments to worry about. Just lots of classes and another powerful speech from Frank Peretti. (We are the church. And the church is going to be sifted.) The Book Festival was amazing. Lots of authors there signing books and doing pictures. I got to talk to several and found myself FINALLY coming out of my shell. Why it takes me three days to feel comfortable, I don't know. Just me and my introverted, awkward self, I guess. But I had fun. I even got a chance to meet and speak with my editor. Earlier that week, I was ready to contact her and tell her to forget my book, just send it back! But by then I was feeling a bit better, and she even said she was enjoying it so far!
We came home Sunday and it was very bittersweet. I wish I'd had more time to connect with people. I wish I'd shared more of myself. But I loved everything I learned, even in those low times, because it all worked together to help me grow. I will face discouragement, but if I keep my confidence in Christ, because I am His daughter before I'm a writer, I will get through those low times.
So Realm Makers was everything I'd hoped it could be and more. I hate that it's over and that will be at least a year before it happens again. But in the meantime, I will cherish the memories I made, apply all that I learn, connect with new friends, and remember Whose I am.
And yes, I will keep on writing.
In His Grip!