Do you recall that magical moment when Harry Potter has just been told he was a wizard and not only that, he was a ‘thumping good one’ and not only that, he wasn’t the only one? There was this whole magical world with its own language and ways of doing things that he belonged to without realizing it.
There were owls instead of postmen and wands to be chosen or should I say to choose you? There was a different system of money and special forms of transportation. Remember Harry’s (and ours) first trip down Diagon Alley? It was fantastic; it was this unique culture that existed out of view of ‘normal’ folks.
This was exactly the imagery I used to compare my first encounters with a writer’s conference as I spoke briefly this weekend to the attendees of Mid-Winter Writers Conference. There may not have been any owls delivering the post or wands being waved, I explained, but it was indeed like magic.
Suddenly, like Harry, I had found myself immersed into an intoxicatingly fantastical world where I struggled to understand the terms they used, found myself feeling overwhelmed a great deal of the time and often questioned whether or not I really belonged at all.
There was so much I did not know. I did not know the difference between traditional publishing and vanity publishing and self-publishing and independent publishing. I did not know what my options were. I did not know what choices I had. I did not know so much. But here’s what I did know.
The time had come to take myself, my dreams, my writing seriously and if I didn’t do it, no one could do out for me. Even so, that first year, those first conferences, those were just first steps. No one discovered me, offered me a contract or asked me to write an article, not at first. But, I kept taking next steps and attending more conferences and connecting with supportive people who had walked this path before me and were willing to extend a helping hand. Soon, the day did come that I was published and now, I have my very first book in print, on Amazon and being read. It is a dream come true.
The people I have encountered at these conferences have been the true treasures that I discovered there. The very first keynote was delivered by Angela Hunt, a prolific writer, who inspired me. Then I met Melanie Dickerson, author and now a dear friend who assured me I could do it too. I met and chatted with Hallee Bridgeman at length who poured information into my eagerly listening ears about independent publishing. I met Jennifer Rash, editor of the Alabama Baptist, who encouraged me to recognize my voice, my passion and use it. There have been so many more including Harry and Rita Moritz who organize the Mid Winter Writers Conference and David and Joanne Sloan who organize the Southern Chistian Writers Conference held in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Even this weekend I sat moved to tears by the keynote speaker, Liz Huntley, who is a new successful author and an expert at overcoming obstacles that life throws at you. I was able to meet Jim Reed of Reed Books: The Museum of Fond Memories in Birmingham and be reminded that a writer should hold herself to deadlines and how moments not used writing feel as if they are wasted.
My life is being influenced; my writing is being impacted; my future is being formed with each encounter. It’s like magic.
What about you? Are you ready to hear those magical words, ‘You’re a writer and with a little training I bet you’d make a thumping good one.” As Hagrid told Harry. Are you willing to invest in yourself? Are you ready to take yourself seriously and take the next step toward your dream? Are you willing to find your vouce, celebrate your passion, embrace your calling and find your courage?
Today is leap day. A bonus day by all counts. Why not let this be the day you let your wand choose you and then you in turn choose to wield it to create magical words, words that can impact and change and form and encourage?
This weekend I invited the attendees to take a leap of faith and dive in to the deep waters of pursuing a dream. Today I’d like to invite you to do the same. Go ahead, the deep waters are refreshing and challenging. It will change your life. and who knows , it may change someone else’s.