After attending the recent American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Minneapolis, I was joined by my husband and one of our sons for a few days of sightseeing and visiting relatives in Minnesota. We returned home late Thursday night, but I haven't blogged until now because I've been a little under the weather. Those of you who have been waiting patiently for a new post have my warmest thanks.
ACFW was a wonderful experience. A first-time attender, I was asked repeatedly how that conference compares to the annual Romance Writers of America conference, which I have been attending since 2002, when I sold my first book.
My answer is that RWA has been far more useful to me for networking, gleaning industry news, and picking up tips on how to promote my books and run my home-based writing business more efficiently. The focus at ACFW seems to be on fellowship, encouragement, and writing better. While ACFW delivered on the first two promises in spades, I am not an auditory learner, and I have no patience for sitting through lectures which include a lot of material I already know, so I was uninterested in the workshops on how to become a better writer.
I don't attend how-to-write workshops at RWA, either. But in addition to offering far more workshops than ACFW, RWA covers a much broader range of topics. While I saw only a couple of ACFW workshops on the actual business of writing, at RWA I can always count on picking up new information on things like internet promotion, negotiating book contracts, and figuring federal taxes as a writer. (A confirmed do-it-yourselfer, I have neither a webmaster, a literary agent, nor an accountant).
The fellowship at ACFW was lovely, and a nice feature of the conference is that it includes daily opportunities for corporate worship. But I felt a little left out at a conference that seemed to continually stress following the call to spread the gospel of Christ through writing quality Christian fiction.
I respect and applaud the people who write primarily for that reason, but I am not one of them. Perhaps one day I will be called by God to join their number, but for now I am simply writing wholesome romance novels for my entertainment and yours. If anyone finds spiritual lessons in my books, that's the Lord's doing, not mine. Of course I'm thrilled when I hear He has used my writing to speak to readers' hearts--but the reason my books contain spiritual truths is not that I'm trying to teach lessons. I simply happen to view the world from a Christian perspective, and that comes out in what I write.
RWA has been more useful to me than ACFW because when it comes to writing fiction, I identify more with romance novelists of all stripes than with Christians who write novels in order to promote the gospel. Hey, I'm a conservative, evangelical, Bible-reading Christian--and if you haven't picked up on that, then you haven't read any of my books. But my books aren't sermons with a little romance thrown in to make the lessons more palatable. They're just entertaining love stories about Christian men and women.
I have said before that one big conference a year is really enough for me. So while I met a lot of new friends at the ACFW conference and came away feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work, next summer I will again be attending the RWA conference.
One final note: I can't tell you how tickled I was every time I introduced myself to someone at the ACFW conference and was told, Oh, I read your blog! "No rules," right?
Right. Thanks for reading.