Before the Conference

Stressed? Me? Oh, of course. But this week, for a different reason.

On Thursday, I’ll be attending the Maranatha Writer’s Conference. It’ll be about a four hour trip for me, but I’m not one to shy away from a long drive when it comes to a writer’s conference. In fact, only this summer did I drive six hours to Utopia Con in Nashville solely for the purpose to pitch my novel to an editor I admired.

But, that’s a story for a different time.

Earlier last week, the prospect of going to a writer’s conference excited me, but I got nervous that I had nothing substantial to present or pitch. I viewed this as a burden. In my train of thought, if I was a writer, I would obviously have something to pitch, I always had something to pitch or else I couldn’t really call myself a writer.

See the problem?

For a few days, I scrambled to polish some uncompleted scrap of work in order to be able to pitch to an editor, just to say that I had done it. It was hard, and I was struggling. I vented my issue to my best friend—who is also a writer—and she looked at me like I had suggested I wanted to jump off the roof.

“You don’t have to pitch anything,” she said bluntly. “You can just meet with an editor and ask questions or talk to them. That’s what they’re there for.”

I don’t know why it took the common sense of another person to jolt me out of my panic, but it did. I suddenly realized I didn’t need to pitch any scrap of work that I have. In fact, really the only thing I should bring about for any kind of publication is a piece of work that I can stand fully behind as a writer, and improve it from there.

So to remove the unnecessary stress on myself, instead of focusing on pitching at the Maranatha Conference, I’m planning on working on something much more worthwhile: building relationships.

Of course, I’m not saying there isn’t a chance I will find an editor or agent that will want to represent my work. I would never say no to that kind of relationship. In order to be a good literary citizen, I’ll have to build my tribe, and flourish within it first. I’d much rather spend these next few days at the conference admiring and promoting others than my own work.

It can be refreshing to marvel in the beauty of someone else. I’m surrendering myself to such a time, and let my stress be melted away through the grace of another.

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