by Karen Ball
This blog is from one twitch to another. Let me explain…
My husband loves that I’m a writer. He loves my creativity and passion. And he loves how happy I am when I’m writing. He knows when I’m writing because I get “twitchy.” Translation: Distracted. Otherwise occupied. Caught up in scenes and conversations no one but I—and that multitude in my mind–can see or hear. He knows that when the twitchies hit, he’s only wasting breath to ask me things like, “Did you pick up milk today?” or, more true-to-life, “Why is the milk in the oven?” He knows when I’m lost in twitchiness that I don’t realize what’s happening in the here and now. And so he just sighs, checks to see if the milk is still cold, then puts it away. Or goes to the store for a new gallon.
Happily, he doesn’t mind too much when I’m a twitch. He even likes to come to my world for visits—short visits, that is–and help where he can. Like the time he helped me write a scene where a cougar attacks my protags. My darlin’ Master Security Officer knew the kind of gun my hero would use (no, silly, I didn’t kill the cougar, just scared it off!), the distance said gun could shoot, how the bullets would react hitting the ground as opposed to hitting large boulders, and so much more. Oh yes, he loves all of that. But the one thing my grounded, “just-the-facts-ma’am” hubby can’t do is understand my world. The world in my head. The world peopled by characters who sometimes seem far more real than the person sitting next to me in church. Truth is, the only people who understand this world of words and publishing are those in it. Fellow Twitches.
That’s why I love writers’ conferences. There’s nothing like being surrounded by people who really get it. When you’re at a writer’s conference, no one looks at you cross-eyed when you say your characters kept you up all night arguing. And no one runs screaming from the room—or calls 9-1-1–when lunch conversation turns to the best poisons to use to kill someone and not leave a trace. When you attend a writers’ conference, people can spend hours debating the use of semicolons in fiction or whether e-books are a godsend or the devil’s spawn. There are few places I, and many of the writers I know, feel as at home as at a writers’ conference. Which is why, when someone asks me what advice I can give them as they’re developing their writing career, my response is almost always: attend a writers’ conference.
I know it’s an investment of time and money to attend a conference. I get that. But friends, we need to gather together in these places. We need time with our fellow twitches, to learn and grow. To talk and share, to worship and celebrate and pray together for God’s guidance on this journey. I attend conferences to speak and teach, but I always receive so much in return: fellowship, encouragement, enlightenment, and an ever deepening understanding of the publishing industry. As with any training for any job, the investment you make in a conference is well worth it. Where else can you receive focused, hands-on teaching? Critiques from professionals who don’t want anything from you, but seek only to help you. And where else can you have face-to-face time with industry insiders? There’s no substitute for an editor knowing who you are because s/he has met you.
I believe in these conferences so much that throughout the year, I’ll be asking folks associated with the best of the best to stop in here for a visit, to share with us what their conference is about and why it would benefit you as a writer to attend. The first conference spotlight will happen next week, when Rachel Williams, director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference joins us. So stay tuned!