The conference ended just over a week ago. In that time, I have been madly processing all of the creative and technical lessons poured into us over those four days. And I've mentally re-written this blog several times. I couldn't decide whether to share how enlightening and challenging it was to sit under Steven James for four days or talk in detail about the sweet grace that Deb Raney exudes.
"Which won out?" you might ask. The answer is "Something else entirely."
During my time at Ridgecrest, the Holy Spirit convicted me in three areas. Areas I wouldn't have guessed would be explored while learning about writing, but the lessons were timely for me nonetheless. I'm praying that I would submit these areas to his leadership and humble myself daily so that He will work Life in my dark heart.
I was sitting in Steven James' "How to Write Thrillers, Action, and Suspense" class on Tuesday. He was talking about cause and effect in stories and counseled that we should analyze every sentence with this standard. "Every sentence?" I thought, "That's a lot of work!" Across the room, another conferee voiced my attitude. Steven responded something like this--Yes, it is hard work, but it takes hard work to create a great book. As a Christian, do you want great art?
I was frozen. If I am a daughter of the King and say I've been called by God to write, then I should write nothing less than excellent novels. We are called to a standard of excellence in all of life, including writing.
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.... Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." -Colossians 3:17,23
I am humbled that I hadn't thought through this particular revelation before. I mean, I write novels about biblical gender roles, which includes submission; I should've seen it coming. But I didn't. After several days of hearing authors and editors talk about standards and rules, I was overwhelmed by all I needed to change based on the current style and preference in publishing. I had a conversation with another conferee who stated that she planned to write the way she wanted and knew that God would open a door at the right publisher. Which may happen.
However, the Holy Spirit reminded my spirit that we are to submit to our authorities because He has placed them over us. How this changed my perspective on house standards! As a woman who believes in the beauty of submission, if I choose to place myself under a publishing house's supervision and leadership, I must acknowledge its authority over my work and my career. I do not have to agree with their preferred methods of craft and punctuation, but I must submit to those methods if I choose to work in this industry. This too shows the beauty of Christian unity, leadership, and submission. It keeps the name of God from being reviled.
"Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved." -1 Timothy 6:1-2
How quick I was to look down on another. I regret to say how often I judged the pride and lack of self-awareness in other unpublished authors. I mentally patted myself on the back for keeping quiet and spewed bile once away from those interactions, often as early as the door stopped swinging behind me and Erynn. God forgive me. Do you remember that verse which says "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks"? (It's in Lk. 6:45). My mouth spoke and showed the pride and darkness of my own heart. I am ashamed to admit it.
On Tuesday, I wrote Psalm 19:13-14 on a notecard and carried it around with me for the day. This was my prayer: "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless... Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."
As I walk away from the conference with new writing ideas, I also leave with a clearer perspective on my heart. I pray God will continue to build excellence, submission, and humility in me. And I pray the same for you.