Pre-ACFW annual conference thoughts

The American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference is coming up this weekend in Indianapolis. I plan to attend on Saturday. As a first-time attendee I’m included on the “first timers” email thread/forum. It’s been interesting to hear people’s perspectives and to learn their motivations for attending. It’s also made me consider my own motivations.

I should say I’m pregnant and therefore tapering some medicine which may affect my mood. (Yeah, I’ll put it that way.) So, I might be a little grumpy. And emotionally detached. And cynical. And jaded.

When I saw the cost of attending the entire conference, I about choked on my noodles. Call me selfish, stingy, ignorant but I had to weigh the financial cost of attending the conference against the personal and professional benefits I might receive.

When folks like Chip MacGregor and Randy Ingermanson say attending conferences is crucial to getting published in the Christian market, I listen. I also consider the fact that I’m preggo, my husband (like so many others) is out of work and I’m trying to meet my Dave Ramsey budget every month. (It hasn’t happened yet, but here’s to trying.)

When the president of ACFW says the conference is about more than the appointments, I listen. Still, the reason I ultimately decided to lay down three Benjamin Franklins was the appointments. I looked at who I might have the opportunity to sit down with for fifteen minutes and I decided, “Okay, three hundred bucks it is.” $615? No. $300? Yes. I may regret not attending the full conference, and if I do, I will come back here and eat my noodles, chewing more slowly and carefully the second time around.

It’s a business.

Am I allowed to say that? Okay, maybe not for everyone attending the conference, but for me, it is. I don’t have dreams of writing the break-out novel, becoming a millionaire and buying yachts, but I do have a goal of creating an alternate stream of income via my writing that may someday allow me more professional freedom and eventually help fund my retirement. Given my current age and the average life expectancy of American females, I feel it’s a realistic and attainable goal.

Those who aren’t major breadwinners or, for whatever reason, don’t have to consider ways to put food on the table may not have to apply the often boring, hum drum, potentially fun-leaking rules of business to their craft. They may be able to enjoy writing as a hobby and/or a source of personal fulfillment. They may be able to approach the ACFW conference as primarily a spiritual experience. I’m not knocking it. In fact being in such a position is a recurring daydream of mine. I’m just not there yet.

Not only is writing a business to me, it’s a (potential) job.

As an employee, I can be mindful of God and infuse him into my daily nine to five, but if I start up a prayer group during business hours and expect my employer to pay me for the time (and become huffy when he/she doesn’t), I’m…well…misguided. On the other hand, if opportunities come up to fellowship and talk about God during downtime or within the context of my primary job function: Bonus!

Given I view my writing as a business, a potential job opportunity, I can be appreciative of and thankful for the spiritual underpinnings of the ACFW conference, but they aren’t my primary motivation for attending. They are a bonus.

Does that mean I’m cynical and jaded? I dunno. I do think it means I’m being honest and, for me, realistic.

Last thing. My job is fourth on my list of priorities. (That’s the goal anyway.) My list reads like this: God, marriage, children, job. What’s on top trickles down. If I keep God on top, He’ll naturally show up in my job. Theoretically.