Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Rachel, Janet and Wendy over the next three days as they attend, and I write about, the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.
This is the story of my first visit to the Mount Hermon thirteen years ago.
I first went to the conference at the suggestion of an old friend who remembered I always planned to write books. Be careful what you talk about in your youth–some people will remember. 🙂
I had no idea what to expect and was very nervous. I didn’t know a soul there and was traveling far from home on a trip that felt indulgent.
After checking in, I wandered into the dining room where I sat at a table with two women: Shannon Hill (now Marchese) and Becky Germany. They were editors and we talked about what editors did. I brought up Maxwell Perkins and his outstanding work. They nodded politely.
I took a magazine writing “track” (series of morning classes) during my five days there. As a trained reporter and editor from college, I felt confident I could write a magazine article–I’d done it before. Roger Palms was very encouraging and his course inspired optimism.
Unfortunately, the magazine editors that year were very discouraging.
Indeed, as the rain poured down in Mount Hermon’s redwood-studded valley, I grew more and more discouraged. It came to a head on Sunday afternoon as I watched the misty rain and prayed.
“You know, Lord, I don’t know why I came. Maybe I should forget about getting published and just go home to raise my daughter. It will be a bummer if I never publish a book, but it will be worse if I botch my daughter’s childhood.”
The clouds parted.
A beam of light split the clouds.
It did not hit me.
But it might as well have. I laughed. “Okay, God. I’ll take that as a yes.”
I cheered up considerably.
One of the speakers that year was writer T. Davis Bunn and he mentioned he had written seven novels before he finally sold one. I decided to use that erudite and skillful man as my marker. I wouldn’t worry about publication until I had written seven novels.
So, I went home and raised my children, practiced my craft, found a part-time job in publishing, attended more conferences and grew in my skill and confidence.
My daughter’s junior high years challenged me, and I’ve always been thankful I didn’t have a contract during that time. I was able to focus on my family’s needs and I “grew” in even more ways.
I’m glad God took his time.
And when I got discouraged and discontented, I remembered that sun beam and those seven novels I needed to write.
I got my first contract, for A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, the day we drove our daughter to college.
Becky Germany was my editor.
I’m not sure if it was the seventh project I’ve written, but it was close. 🙂
God puts dreams into our hearts and asks us to hold them lightly. Giving them up to God to use to His glory was easier knowing I “sort of” had a promise.
My children are total delights. I’ll have published eight works by the end of this year.
Almost all the good things that have happened to me professionally have been the result of attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.
That, of course, and God’s peculiar blessings for me.
Has God given you any promises? What dreams do you hold lightly? What God-given dreams have come true?