>Crossing the state line, I rejoiced as the Iowa sign welcomed me home and my heart was suddenly pierced by a personal application of my state’s motto: “Fields of Opportunities.”
I was returning from my first writer’s conference. In the dark warmth of my van, engine whine and tire hum became a distant hypnotic song. But within my mind and heart, a cacophony of reflections and emotions clamored.
The conference had been sponsored by the Heart of America Christian Writers Network (HACWN) and had been held in the Kansas City metropolitan area, about three and a half hours from my home in Iowa.
Only a few days before the November 1 deadline for contest entries, I had discovered the conference during an online search. I quickly filled out my registration form, submitted some entries, and made hotel reservations. And I prayed. I prayed for physical and emotional strength to enable me to attend. I prayed that I would meet the people of God’s choosing. Most of all, I prayed for God’s guidance and direction in my writing life.
At the conference, I immediately met helpful people from the HACWN Board and connected with friendly writers who shared my interests and perspectives. I attended a variety of seminars and learned something in every one. But while I was attending some about writing articles and others about writing books, I didn’t feel as if I was receiving any clear direction. Should I continue on my present course of writing articles and editing newsletters, while trying to carve out time for fiction and poetry? Or should I give up some current commitments and devote more time to writing fiction?
I had also signed up for a professional critique and was prepared for constructive criticism, but still found it a bit painful. By the time I phoned my husband on Friday evening, I was experiencing significant chronic pain and fatigue and I was a little discouraged.
But when I woke on Saturday, I realized that I had heard exactly what I needed to hear during my critique. I was learning something worthwhile in every seminar. I was making great connections and wonderful new friends.
I had an encouraging appointment first thing on Saturday morning and then slipped into Carmen Leal’s coaching class on marketing in time to hear her say, “You think you are writing a book, but you are creating a product.”
From the very start of the conference, I had been hearing more and more about “building platform,” and Carmen’s class was the icing on the marketing cake. When she spoke about continuing to write articles while writing a book, it was a personal epiphany. It wasn’t a matter of choosing to write only articles or only books, I could and should continue to do both.
As the conference wound down, my encouragement cranked up.
I watched from a darkened back pew as others won first place awards in adult fiction and short story. Then I heard my name announced as the winner of children’s writing! My heart overflowed with gratitude to God. It was one of those rare moments when I felt as if He had reached down and wrapped His arms around me.
But He wasn’t finished. He continued to cradle me when my name was announced a second time as the winner for rhymed poetry. My new friends hugged and congratulated me. My heart overflowed with blessing.
All the emotions and lessons of the previous days vied for attention as I drove home that Saturday night. I was still sifting through them when the Iowa sign welcomed me with its message that fertile “Fields of Opportunities” lay before me.
My heart had been touched by God and by the hearts of other writers in the Heart of America Christian Writers Network. As I neared home, I realized that my opportunities were not limited to one field; multiple fields were ready to be tilled and planted. God would provide each harvest in His perfect timing.