Last month was weird. Wild weird. Good weird. The weird I love.
Why? It was writers conference time.
Ah, the time word scribblers from across the country converge to spend three tumultuous days swarming around a crazy-carpeted venue, wearing our most professional clothes and most uncomfortable shoes. When we stain our hands scribbling notes in classes, workshops, and sessions. When we buzz on four hours or less of sleep. When we shakily tell agents and editors about the manuscripts we’ve poured blood, sweat, and years into. When we overtake a hotel and consider everyone with a name tag a kindred spirit, regardless of whether they write suspense or romance.
Yes, I joined the ranks of that sort last month at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, Texas. It was my first ACFW conference and definitely not my last.
While conferences require eleven months of work and take more mental and emotional energy than we’d ask of our protagonists, the time is always invigorating. Writing is a lonely job, so any time we writers can get out of our offices and meet with fellow ink-spillers who “get” each other, it’s a treat. No weird looks. No bemused “That’s nice, dear.” No one suggesting professional counseling.
One of my favorite quotes from the conference came from Brandilyn Collins during the introductory session. While explaining to everyone that the basement of the Hyatt would be our domain for the next two and half days, the normal people were upstairs. “So, if you feel the need to argue with your main character over why he’s not behaving and taking your plot in the wrong direction,” she said, “you’re free to do so anywhere down here. We’ll all understand. But upstairs…there be normals. And they won’t understand.”
Needless to say, if normals stumbled upon our hive downstairs, they probably didn’t understand why there were people on their knees in the prayer room, why two rows of somber-faced professionals sat outside rooms where hushed interviews were taking place, or what on earth any of us were talking about in the elevators. (I mean, who but writers would understand what an incremental perturbation is…or why anyone would talk so animatedly about it, for that matter?)
Writers create worlds from nothing. Give personality to people who do not exist. Research details that bore geeks. Deep down, we’re not what the world would call normal. We’re weird. But writers get each other, and that’s the weird I love.