by Karen Ball
As many of you know, we just finished up the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Almost 5 days of being surrounded by writers, agents, editors—people steeped in the business, work, and love of words. Each day overflowed with conversations about writing, from workshops to mealtimes to moments in the hallways sharing experiences and insights. And through it all, one place reigned as the stopping point—the place to meet and greet, to refuel and connect.
Oh yeah. Almost every moment the place was open, there was a line stretching out the door. And in that line, creativity flowed! I heard so many great ideas being bounced back and forth, so many answers to “How do I handle this?”, and so many impromptu meetings. I met Frank Peretti for the first time as the two of us stood in line, eyeing the display of rich, tempting pastries. Before I realized it was the Frank Peretti, I leaned forward and asked, “What say you? Brownie or chocolate chip cookie?” He glanced over his shoulder, eyes twinkling: “Chocolate chip cookie. You can’t go wrong with a good chocolate chip cookie.” Me, I prefer the brownie, but what was even more delicious was the chance to meet and thank a writer who prepared the way for so many.
Many who joined the eternal line did so drooping. Clearly, they were fighting weariness or possibly discouragement. But within moments of entering the ranks of the coffee faithful, conversations bloomed, and I saw them straighten, smile, and draw energy from the other “droopers.” Add a venti pumpkin spice coffee, and by the time that person left the Starbuck’s, there was a decided spring in the step.
I found myself sitting at one of the almost-always-occupied tables in the store, watching. Being amused. And uplifted. And inspired.
Yes, we need coffee. Or whatever your energizing fuel of choice may be. But more than caffeine or sugar, more than something tasty to the tongue, it was the fellowship of the line that refueled us. The knowledge that those behind and before us were there because they, too, loved words. The quick encounters that sparked ideas and sympathy and a connection. All of which refueled creativity and passion.
And unlike even the best coffee out there, that kind of refueling lasts.