The scariest part of the ACFW Writer’s Conference was stepping over the homeless people. No, they weren’t attendees – I don’t think – but they lay between my hotel and the expensive conference hotel like speed bumps on the sidewalk. The two hotels looked so close on Mapquest, but at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, dressed in the best outfit the combined closets of Central Oklahoma could produce, I didn’t feel like playing Frogger with the tossing and turning transients. That’s what I got for volunteering for the early bird shift at the registration table.
Don’t get me wrong, volunteering at conference was a blessing and I highly recommend it. I’d much rather have a raison d’etre than stand around with no one to talk to, or even worse, butt in at the cool kids’ table and not realize I wasn’t invited. But at conference every table was the cool kids’ table. I thought people would divide into two camps – “real” authors and wannabes like me. Turns out there was no such division. Everyone loved stories, everyone loved God and everyone loved being there.
Even while scared cold.
Yes, the most stressful location at conference was the loading chute at the appointment desk. No one else would recognize it by that name, but it reminded me of the holding pen where the livestock await their destiny. Milling about, reciting a twenty-word elevator pitch, jumping when the clipboard-bearing coordinator reads the names of the next victim- the excitement was contagious.
But tempering the excitement and stress was peace – writers huddled together, praying for each other before they went to their appointments, complete strangers helped each other polish their presentations, online friends meeting for the first time in person. I knew that even if I wasn’t going to become a writer, God had given me a wonderful moment. Much like enjoying an inspired performance of sacred music, I was celebrating with others as they used their gifts to honor Him.
And for me, that made the whole trip worth the toil, the expense and even the makeover.
Good thing because my appointment assignments weren’t looking so good.