Saturday, March 2, 2019

Why Would I Return to a Writers Conference?

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Six years ago, I attended a writers’ conference for the first time. It was one of the steps that started me on this journey. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to return to the Asheville Christian Writers Conference (ACWC) that was held at the Cove outside of Asheville, North Carolina.

For the sixth time. Six times?

So, what do I get out of it that has brought me back so many times?

1. A chance to relax and refocus.

No matter how much you try to take your writing or any endeavor seriously, life will jump up and snatch your attention.

As I’m writing this, my eighty-five-year-young mother is in the hospital with pneumonia. The family is having to split the nights up so she won’t be alone.

Life happens. Our thoughts and minds are pulled in dozens of directions. Taking a weekend away, occasionally, gives us a chance to catch our breaths and re-prioritize what we want to do with our writing.

Most conferences are held in beautiful settings. The Cove is an awesome place set on the side of a mountain. And I do mean side. Wherever you go from the Training Center, it will be vertically. It would be wise to bring your own mountain goat. Or Sherpa.

The Cove is a retreat into nature with trails and breathtaking scenery. (Except this year when the fog was so heavy it pressed against the windows.) And there’s no TV in the rooms. How radical is that.

One special thing about The Cove, wherever you walk, you can feel that Billy and Ruth Graham have already been there. There’s a special peace. And many of the volunteers knew them personally as family or neighbors.

2. A chance to learn from talented faculty.

Each year, Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones who heads the conference, like many other conferences, try hard to have a mix of regular instructors and first timers. This is important so that the attendees are ensured to hear new experiences and ideas.

But I also like having my ‘regulars’. Over the years, they become friends as you learn about each others’ journeys. I have always come away amazed as much these hyper-busy people care about others that they would take the time and effort to reach out to listen to us and help us where we are.

3. A chance to hear from peers.

Some of my favorite times at the conference are the meals. Yep, food is my love language.

But it’s not only the food. It’s a chance to meet and speak with other writers, some newer than me, many further along, and some where I’m at. 
As Edie likes to say, you find your tribe of other crazies just like you.

This was eye opening to me the first time I attended. That so many other people were writing. And that we could all do it to honor our Heavenly Father. And to get some degree of success at it, whatever that means.

Sign me up.

Often I sat at a table between a new writer, with that fresh out of the box look in her eye trying to soak it all in. On the other side of me sat a faculty member and/or a multi-published author. All of us getting a chance to tell about ourselves.

4. A chance to renew my passion.

Remember the lady I mentioned earlier with the fresh-out-of-the-box expression. With deadlines, fights with editors, rejections, and feelings of inadequacy it’s easy to become jilted. To want to throw your hands up and slam down the lid of your laptop.

Then you meet someone just starting out on their writing journey, pen and journal fresh out of the wrapper and all shined up. And you see yourself as you once were and you remember the answer to that all important question, why do I want to write?

Will I go back for a seventh year? My Holy Agent and I will discuss it. I’ll admit that I’ll be very happy if that’s where He leads. But if not, (a phrase Bob Hostetler spoke about in his keynote) perhaps that’s the spot He’s opening for you.

Just a thought.


Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison. Visit Tim at and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at


  1. Great thoughts and great reasons Mr. Tim. Am at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference for the first time this year. Am already preparing for next year's return, if it's God's will.

  2. Tim,
    Not only does your message clang with resounding truths, but your word picture of the Cove took me back there. Such as when you wrote, "when the fog was so heavy it pressed against the windows."
    Write on!

  3. I just loved the CCWC this past weekend. I enjoyed meeting everyone and I hope to attend next year as well.

  4. I, too, attended the Carolina Christian Writers Conference in Spartanburg SC. What a great conference! The encouragement and inspiration for writers was outstanding.