Write Away in New York City

A question for you to consider: What’s a big dream you’ve had that remains unfulfilled because some aspect of it intimidates you?

For many years one dream of mine has been to attend a national writer’s conference. This is the summer I checked that one off the list.

I still remember a summer afternoon as a teenager when I was curled up reading and thinking, “I can do this.” The idea that I could write things others would read has held me captive pretty much ever since. The dream became reality in 1968 when the Cleveland Plain Dealer bought an article I wrote. 2016 is the year I finally made it to the national Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. There are three things about doing this that intimidated me for years. They were:

  1. National. That means hundreds of people I don’t know are all mingling in a huge hotel venue. My life as a pastor, campaign consultant and camp director often led me to new places to meet with people I do not know. In those situations I had a well-defined purpose for being there and either already knew some of the people or had at least talked with them in advance. At the writer’s conference I knew only that there was a lot more to the writing life yet to learn and that I needed to learn more about it. I did not know a single person when I signed in the first day.
  2. Writer’s Digest. For me the idea of mingling with people from Writer’s Digest seemed a bit like a grade school child mingling with a conference full of school administrators. These are the pros. The ones who accept or reject on a daily basis the words others string together. The people who publish the Writer’s Market – the Bible for aspiring authors hoping to sell what they write.
  3. New York City. I live in Houston. I grew up in Cleveland. I’ve traveled to Chicago countless times over the past ten years. I’ve toured London, Rome and Jerusalem. I’m hardly a stranger to big cities. But there’s something about navigating New York on my own that was daunting.

None-the-less the time was right. I had the money. I had a new book out to talk about. I had a track record of writing and publishing. I had a built-in travel companion in the form of my husband who grew up in NYC and knows his way around the city. I even had reward points at the hotel where the conference was being held. I decided to take the plunge.

It turns out the conference was full of friendly people who all have hopes of seeing their work in print. Or already have and are eager to talk about how they did that. Others were agents and editors in search of new things to publish. I met people like me who struggle to find quiet places to work, confused about the digital culture and are challenged by the rapidly changing nature of the publishing industry.

My journey to the WDC2016 was worth the cost and effort it took to get here. Like all journeys, it started the idea there might be something out there worth discovering. The longest journey doesn’t start with a single step. It starts with the conviction the journey should start, followed by the the faith to take that first step.

I’d love to hear from you about a big goal you’ve reached and how you did it.

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