More than a Writing Conference

More than a Writing Conference

Decked in a blazer with a briefcase hanging by my side, I passed a small sign that read “Write2Ignite.”

My first writer’s conference.

I hoped and prayed for opportunity, knowledge, and experience that waited behind the glass doors. By the end of the conference, I received all and more.

Anyone who hopes to hone their craft and bring their writing into the light is told to attend these conferences. The thought has always stirred up a level of anxiety for me. It means going to a new place, connecting with strangers, and even pitching my ideas to potential publishers. To some, that may be one of the most exciting aspects of the job, but for me it’s slightly nauseating.

Not every writer’s conference holds the same experience, but I’d like to share a little about what this conference did for me.

1. It forced me to be prepared

There is such a thing as being too chill. I signed up for the conference a little late and I was quickly overwhelmed. It’s best to research the presenters, editors, and publishing houses that will be attending so you don’t walk in there completely surprised with no direction. You also should be aware of certain things you should bring such as questions, a one-sheet of your idea or story, business cards, and a medium to take notes on. These things may have overwhelmed me at first, but they proved to be very helpful once I was there.

2. It gave me excellent resources

Conferences have beaucoup number of books, brochures, pamplets, and business cards of a wide variety of writing resources. You can learn about different organizations, publishing options, editing help, and more just by grabbing what they have available. I don’t know if I would’ve ever learned about some of these sources otherwise. Now they’re all stuffed in a folder for future reference.

3. It pushed me to make connections

The introvert in me has to constantly suppress the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new people. I was lucky to have had a few familiar faces at the conference to help guide me through the process. Regardless of who was there, I needed to get over myself and establish a connection with people, introduce myself, and ask questions. You’ll miss out on a lot if you decide to be the silent wanderer of the conference that no one knows. It’s not the best marketing tool either. Luckily, I stuck out my hand, asked for a few autographs, and joined in conversations, all without dying.

4. It surrounded me with like-minded people

Seminars that keep your attention are typically the ones that focus on your passion. Knowing that I was sitting with people who have similar goals and dreams made me feel submerged within my element. Plus, it’s not necessarily difficult to talk with these people because we all share something in common: The power of stories being or waiting to be told.

5. It gave me experience

Not only do I have one conference under my belt, I also have a couple of pitching sessions too. A pitching session is when you meet with a publisher, editor, or agent to discuss your story whether it’s fully written or not. Those sessions help you gain experience to better hone your pitch and open the door for possible publishing opportunities. You also can discover more about yourself as a writer and who you’re writing for during those sessions.

6. It gave me encouragement

This conference was filled with gracious speakers and presenters, saturated in the love of God and dripping with the faith that His hand will guide all of us. If I can steal what one of our keynote speakers, Lisa Albinus pointed out in the miracle feeding of the 5000, Jesus said to the disciples “You give them something to eat.”

God has given us a story. Many stories. Some of these come from the God-given gift of imagination, others comes from life experience. Either way, if we have felt His calling, we must equip ourselves to use these talents to give to the world. To limit ourselves by saying we’re not good enough or there’s no way we’ll be published is to limit God’s glory and to forsake what He’s equipped us to give.

“You give them something to eat.”

∼Mark 6:37∼

I left the conference fully charged, connected, and one step closer to having my own dream become a reality. Mainly, I was reminded that I write because God instilled a passion in me at a young age. He’s given me a talent and the least I can do is use it to encourage people closer to Him.

If you’re struggling about what God has called you to do or how you’ll ever make a living doing something you love, remember, He knows and He will get you where you need to be. He will always equip you, you simply have to give your all. No matter what stage in the process you are, God has outlined the steps if only you trust Him.

For my fellow writers, if you’re interested in checking out Write2Ignite go to their website here.

God bless you in the journey He’s called for you.

-LJM

Proverbs 16:9

 

 

 

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

I sat in a coffee shop with my friend Emily, a large white cup and saucer we both agreed came out of a Friends episode rested between my hands.

“It feels almost like you’re in limbo.” Those were my words to her while describing my life after college so far.

I say limbo because many refer to this time of life as a transitional phase. Transitioning from student to working adult. Education to career. College bubble to reality.

The main aspect of this phase is learning about real life. That’s what makes it intimidating, even hard. It’s learning to accept that you’ve left childhood behind with dependence nearing its way out the door as well.

Don’t get me wrong, being out of college has its perks, and I have been enjoying them. For instance, I truly relish the fact that I don’t have school projects hanging over my head and spending every spare moment hashing out A-quality assignments.

I’ve been able to work toward things that I’ve been putting off during my time in college, like my writing. It makes me feel productive to be working on something I love and believe in. As a result, I feel like I’m slowly making progress toward my career.

At the end of the day, I’m completely at ease with a cup of tea and a good book or script on my lap. Those moments of being satisfied with the work of the day and having no anxiety of the next day, remind me of the sweet taste of freedom.

But here are some things I’ve been learning.

It’s easy to lose yourself within routine. In fact, it’s really easy to lose yourself. Period. Sometimes, I find myself trying to pinpoint my identity by what I’m doing.

Graduate…writer…cashier.f5976310cb853b4c06b6228aa6f83f881954312a

Through all of those questions of ‘who’, I also face daily questions of insecurity. Am I being productive? Am I doing enough to pursue my career? Am I settling too easily?

I find reassuring myself by saying “Hey, you made money today,” helps with the inner nagging. Speaking of money, I’ve recently been welcomed to the full-time working world which is a learning experience in itself. With it comes less time and more sacrificing of things I would rather be doing. But it’s all a part of that real world I was talking about.

I’ll admit I’ve been dealing with the inward struggle of Post-Grad Syndrome, whatever that may be, but God has been extremely faithful nonetheless.

He’s given me two jobs with ample time to keep writing. He’s provided for my needs and has blessed me with things I’ve wanted. He’s given me a loving, supportive family who shows me the value of hard work. Not to mention a place to live.

Through it all, I’m reminded that my identity has always and will always be in Jesus. He is my priority and my Chief Navigator. I’m still His child, and He is merely taking me by the hand through this intimidating season of life.

So, if any of my fellow grads are feeling similarly, I urge you to hang on to your blessings, be alert to what The Chief is teaching you during this time, and look to Him for guidance. Always.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

∼Psalm 32:8∼

If you’d like to read my other post about Post-Grad life click here

And the journey continues…

God bless!

-LJM

Why I Went to See The Shack

Why I Went to See The Shack

I’m no stranger to Young’s The Shack nor its controversies.

YouTube videos detail the story’s brainwashing doctrine, theological scholars call it heresy, and articles flood my newsfeed with all the biblical reasons to avoid supporting the new film adaptation.

Even so, I went to see the film with an excitement that’s been building up since I first read the book seven months ago. I did, however try to keep in mind all of the opinionated articles I had read leading up to the film’s release.

The movie was very enjoyable even though it seemed like every actor was whispering the entire time. There were definitely lines and scenes that stayed close to the book, and I’ll admit that I bawled towards the end. The film though didn’t quite do the book justice as it had to sculpt away some of the funny nuances that made the novel special, but I feel the film kept the heart of the story.

And that heart isn’t to change the doctrine of Christianity.

I’ve read the book twice, which is something I never do whether I love a book or not. As an aspiring Christian fiction writer, I understand that fictional stories come from true places in the heart. The job is not to tell the same old cliché story. I won’t pretend to know Young’s intentions, but I will say that his story did for me what I hope to do with my future books.

In a tangible way, he reawakened the fantastic love God has for me and the world. No matter how many times I read the book or see the movie, I will always come away with these core messages:

  1. God is very fond of all of us and wants us to know Him rather than know about Him. (Romans 5:8)
  2. No matter how horribly evil someone can be, God still wants the chance to redeem. (Romans 3:23)
  3. Though some of our wounds are incredibly deep and painful, God still wants us to forgive those who caused them. (Matthew 5:44)
  4. We judge the world and God every day of our lives, but God’s ways are higher than our ways. (Matthew 7:1)

If I can add my voice to the many opinions out there, I believe that is the heart of the story.

I’m saddened by the fact that not everyone walks away with the same things and even more so that the story isn’t being given the chance to do what it was written to do. To tell people about the love of a good Father. To heal years of brokenness through the love of Jesus who understands. And to encourage others to grow more intimately with God.

Instead, it is rebuked, boycotted, and deemed blasphemous not by athiests, but by fellow believers.

We can all agree that the Bible is the place to search for truth, and a fictional story should not be treated as life giving as the Bible. That’s where the problem begins, but I highly doubt that we have to worry about Shack-supporting Christians uprising and throwing out the Word of God.

The Shack is not the film you should worry about tampering with your faith or idea about God. Even if you don’t agree with every little piece of information, the film is still clean, positive, encouraging, and moving.

In all honesty, those characteristics are far better than the negative ones that we Christians open ourselves to by seeing movies such as Sausage Party, Ouija, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

By all means don’t forsake your convictions. Stand up for what you believe in. That’s what I’m doing by writing this, and that’s all I can ask of you.

My hope is that our beliefs don’t cause us to fight our own fellow believers. Our enemy can be pretty effective with that strategy.

If you’d like to see my original review of the book, click here.

Have peace, show love, and be blessed!

-LJM

James 4:8

 

Feeding Desire

Feeding Desire

By Leah Jordan Meahl

 

A tight embrace to melt the edge of loneliness

To feel a beating heart—a lullaby desire.

 

The brush of skin, though not my own

Full of life, of breath, I cry desire.

 

Asleep, awake, my thoughts are captivated

By your face, though blurry, O thy desire.

 

You are a star in the sky—so real

And yet such a high desire.

 

Closer to you each passing day while

Protecting my undying desire.

 

If one night your touch is real,

Break down and stale will my desire?

 

And I, Leah, grown fond of chasing,

Who may never fully satisfy Desire.

 

Galations 5:16-17