By the time most people read this post, there is a good chance that I will be in an airplane on my way to St. Louis or I will have already arrived there. It is time for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers’ national conference. I haven’t been to an ACFW conference in a number of years and am delighted to get to go again.
This year, I am being presented with ACFW’s highest award, the Lifetime Achievement Award. To say I am honored and humbled is an understatement. Words fail me … and that isn’t a good thing for a writer.
When I began this writing journey back in 1981, I had no clue of the rich experiences and wonderful friendships it would bring into my life. All I knew was that I had a story and characters running around in my head and I needed to get them onto paper. In the evenings after getting home from work, I would write on legal pads. Then the next day, I would type those pages on the office IBM Selectric during coffee breaks and lunch hours (with my boss’s blessing, I should add).
There was no Internet back then. There weren’t any easily accessible writers’ groups as there are today. It was just me and my legal pads and borrowed typewriter, plus all of the books I could borrow from the library.
In 1983, before my first book was published, I joined Romance Writers of America(ACFW wouldn’t exist for nearly two more decades). In 1986, I attended my first RWA national conference. My fifth book was about to release, but I was most definitely a wide-eyed rookie. I soaked up the words of the brightest stars and best writers at the time.
Last January, I marked thirty years as a published author. As you can imagine, I’m not so wide-eyed at conferences anymore. I’ve attended at least 150 of them, from small conferences with 20 attendees up to big conferences with 2,200 attendees. And while I always learn something when I attend a conference, mostly I go to network and simply enjoy the company of other authors (and other publishing professionals as well).
If you’re a writer, you know it’s nice to be around others who also have stories and characters running around in their heads—not to mention the voices—but who aren’t in straitjackets.
Over the past three decades, I have received numerous awards and honors. They have served as encouragements when this crazy business has done its best to get me down. But the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award already holds a special place in my heart.
Thank you, ACFW, and all of the wonderful people—writers, editors, agents, readers, publicity and marketing pros, and more—who have become part of my life because of this crazy, mixed up, wonderful, crushing, exciting writing journey.