The Big Kids’ Table

Last weekend, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend an amazing writers’ conference, hosted by my very own Northwest Christian Writers’ Association (I’m on the board).  I’ve attended for the past couple years, and this is the first year that I was invited to speak. 

My first time attending the conference, I’d just moved to Seattle and had just started thinking of myself as a “writer.”  I camped out on my sisters’ college house couch and pitched my book ideas to agents and editors the next day. My palms were sweating, and my knees were knocking together as I proposed books to these intimidating strangers.

When I showed up this year, I was assigned a badge with the words “speaker” emblazoned across it in bright red letters. Attendees randomly came up to me and asked my advice, and editors sidled up to me when they were trying to avoid overly persistent authors, intent on selling their unsellable book ideas. What a difference that little word made.

I was feeling pretty dang special until dinner that first night, when I was invited to join the speakers at the big kids’ table. Sitting all around me were people who’d published hundreds of books, articles, and spoke to thousands of people. Listening to them speak, I started feeling smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

We went around the table and introduced ourselves, and naturally, I was one of the last ones.  So I had the benefit of hearing from the years of experience that came before me. “I’ve published 51 books.” “My book has been translated into 10 languages.” “Five million people read my blog.”

Smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

“Hi my name is Amy. And what the heck am I doing here?”

But when the introductions were finished, we did something that put everyone one the exact same level.  We all bowed our heads in prayer, for the conference, for each other’s own needs, and for the people who were supporting us at the conference.

In prayer, there were no great authors.  There were no great people.  We were simply God’s people, united, equal, and humble before our God, relying on him to make our conference a success.

Okay, the author who published 51 books and 3,000 articles still intimidated me. But that moment in prayer gave me the right perspective for the entire conference.  When our heads are bowed, we’re all at the same level.

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Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 10:59 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Okay, so why were you given a badge with “speaker” on it? Was it because you have a Vermont accent, which is so rare in Seattle? Was it because you are a teacher? Or…have you written a book or articles for magazines, newspapers an the like?

    AL: Good question! I’m guessing it had something to do with being a college writing instructor. I gave two talks on how to be a good self-editor, making full use of my grammar know how from the classroom. But I also learned a lot from the people who attended my talk, as I often do from my students. I had some seasoned writers in attendance who had some great tips to share of their own. I’ve done my share of writing, articles, blogs (obviously), books, and newspaper stories, but I’m sure it’s my college teaching experience that’s helped the most. There’s nothing like leading a classroom to teach you many tried and true writing tools (trial by fire?).


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