Thursday, February 13, 2020

Writers on Repeat: Don’t give up!


by Julie Lavender @JLavenderWrites

Bill Murray’s classic romantic comedy, Groundhog Day, played in the background (as an alternative to the Super Bowl) on one of those movie channels when I sat down to ponder my February post for The Write Conversation. With conference season on my mind, I couldn’t help but compare the lessons learned by meteorologist Phil Connors with some of my takeaways of conferencing. 

Be nice to others
Bill Murray, as Phil Connors, learns that the best way for him to achieve greatness is to befriend and help others. A writing conference is a great place to meet fellow comrades on similar writing journeys. And, sometimes, not-so-similar. As in, a completely different genre than you’re familiar with and leaning towards, but a compatriot, nonetheless. 

Attendees and faculty go the extra mile to treat others with kindness and to share the knowledge they’ve gleaned thus far on their writing trek. In a variety of stages of published and almost-published, conferees delight in sharing tips and techniques and story plots and industry jargon and prayer requests and so much more. 

To achieve greatness in the writing world is to befriend and help others, to stand shoulder to shoulder with writers in the trenches. To link arms, share fellowship, and encourage with words and deeds. Whatever conference or conferences you plan to attend this season, make it a goal to “take home” a host of new friendships and lots of renewed ones, too.

Make the most of your time
The meteorologist stuck in Groundhog Day-repeat learned to make the most of every day, with an introduction to piano lessons, ice sculpting, and a new language. Conferences offer a plethora of classes and workshops. Take advantage of the wisdom of experienced instructors by sitting in as many classes as your brain can handle and purchase recordings of other classes. And, by all means, if you need “me” time to survive, do so, but don’t miss out on the valuable information available to you around practically every corner.

Keep trying new things to get the job done
Though Murray’s character mostly wanted to break free from another Groundhog Day, he also wanted to “get the girl.” He continued to try new things to accomplish his goal. Repeat conferees know that what you learn one year and put into action may be completely different the next year. Heed the advice of those in the know. Follow suggestions and instructions of experienced faculty, because they have your best interest at heart. They want you to succeed. 

I learned that lesson personally with a manuscript proposal I shared with Vicki Crumpton, Revell editor, four years ago for the first time at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I mentioned to her that I’d spoken earlier that day with Cyle Young, Hartline Literary Agency, and she said if I signed with him, to have him send it to her. She also made some suggestions for changes to my non-fiction book idea. 

I did eventually sign with Cyle Young, a month or so after the conference, and I made the changes she suggested and worked on getting more active on several social media sites and starting a blog, as she also suggested. 

The next year at Blue Ridge, I spoke with Vicki again, sharing the work I’d done, at her request. She made other suggestions – secure more social media followers, as well as a more regular, interactive presence on several sites. And we talked about “borrowed platform.”

Last year at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, the third time I sat down with Vicki Crumpton at a one-on-one session, I showed her the numbers of followers for two of the three homeschooling sites that I blog for monthly – the “borrowed platform” she suggested – and she said those marvelous words every writer wants to hear, “Tell Cyle to send it to me again. I’d like to publish it.”

Had I not tried each of those “new” tips she suggested, I wouldn’t have accomplished the goal I set out to achieve. My book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October of this year. I’m thrilled, to say the least! 

Don’t Give Up! 
Phil Connors doesn’t give up. He “gets the girl,” makes a ton of new friends, takes advantage of new opportunities, and eventually wakes up to a new, grand day! But he had to keep plugging along to get there. You can do this! You got this! Keep praying and keep on keeping on! You’ll be so glad you did! 

I hope to see lots of you at conferences this season! But in the meantime, why not share something you learned about your writing journey from a new movie or an old classic!   

TWEETABLE

Julie Lavender – whose favorite color as a child was any shade of purple  – reluctantly took off the homeschooling hat she’d worn over twenty-five years when her youngest of four started college a couple of years ago. That child is a senior, and the threat of the dreaded “empty nest” is imminent. Julie delights in filling her almost-empty nest, however, with new writing friends that she loves to connect with online or at writing conferences. 

Her newest book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child, published by Revell, releases in the fall. Julie co-authored two devotionals in the last six months with Michelle Cox, best-selling author of the When God Calls the Heart devotional books, inspired by the Hallmark series “When Calls the Heart.” 

Julie won a Guideposts Writing Contest in 2014, joining eleven other winners in Rye, New York to study under top, New York-based Guideposts editors. One of those fellow winners just happened to be the amazing Edie Melson! Since winning that contest, Julie has been chosen for six Guideposts Refresher Workshops and been published in all four of their major publications, as well as online. Additionally, Julie writes for her hometown newspaper, the Statesboro Herald, contributing over 800 faith-based and local feature articles, a monthly family column, and a monthly women’s feature. 

She is the author of 365 Days of Celebration and Praise and Creative Sleepovers for Kids and three teacher resource books for the religious division of Carson-Dellosa Publishers. She also contributes to compilations like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Heart Reno, Short and Sweet, and Guideposts collections. Julie’s magazine credits include Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Refresh, Homeschooling Today, The Upper Room, Secret Place, Southern Writers, BookFun, Focus on the Family, Mature Living, Country Woman, ParentLife, and Taste of Home.
Julie and husband David have two sons, two daughters, one son-in-love, and one precious grandson. Julie has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught public school before becoming a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling mommy. Julie and her husband, a former entomologist for the United States Navy and a current wildlife biologist at an army base, traveled about the country with their four children as Uncle Sam directed for twenty years before returning to their hometown of Statesboro, Georgia. 

Connect with Julie on Facebook, Twitter at @JLavenderwrites, Instagram at JulieLavenderwrites, and follow her nature blog, On My Walk With God, at julielavender.blogspot.com

20 comments:

  1. "Winners never quit; Quitters never win!" Well said Ms. Julie.

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    1. Thank you, J.D.! It's sometimes a long, arduous journey, but, oh what fun and adventure (along with occasional rejections and disappointments) along the way! I'm just glad we have friends on this same path with us, like you, to encourage and support!!

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  2. Amen. Don't give up. Keep writing. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Melissa, for those words that I need to remind myself of often!!

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  3. Julie: As usual - honest, clear, and wise. We live in a time where we have instant access to an enormous amount of information about a craft we love - much of it is free. And to your point, there is concetrated wisdom and advice available at conferences and workshops where it's going to cost to be a part of it and capitalize on it. Successful people don't rely on luck; they constantly seek improvement and make choices in order to keep on keeping on. Something that has resonated with me for years didn't come from a movie, but was a quote that really hit me hard and never let go. Josh Billings said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know that ain't so no more." Put another way, doing things the same way or relying on old sources for advice and information can be limiting our progress. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

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    1. Oh, goodness, I love that Billings' quote! And you/he are both so right! This publishing journey changes so frequently, with the advent of new resources constantly, that if we just rely on old sources, we're not going to move forward on our path. And, "concentrated wisdom and advice" is the perfect way of thinking about a conference! Thanks for commenting!!

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  4. Excellent advice, Julie. I haven't been to a conference in awhile, but so glad I have my Word Weaver's critique group each month to keep me going forward.

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    1. I'm embarrassed to say I've only just joined an online Word Weaver's critique group, and I am LOVING it!!! Don't know why I didn't do it before now, but I'm really glad I have my group to keep me going, too!

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  5. A great reminder for me as I look into going to my first conference this year! Thank you!

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    1. Yes! You're going to love your first conference! You may feel slightly overwhelmed at first - that's normal and everybody does - but you'll love it, you'll learn so much, and you'll meet SO MANY new friends!!!! They are excellent sources of inspiration and knowledge for writers!

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    2. Yes! You will love it!! You may feel slightly overwhelmed at first, but know that that's normal and we all do and did, but, you'll be so glad you went! Conferences are an excellent resource for inspiration, encouragement, information, and a wealth of new friends!

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  6. In addition to the great workshops and plethora of information, I especially love the connections I make at conferences. We can support each other through this solitary writing journey.

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    1. I absolutely love the friends I've made at conferences, Cathy, and couldn't agree more with you! We writers need people that "get us" - even though our family and friends love us, there's just something about fellow writers understanding and supporting us in terrific ways!

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  7. Great tips, Julie! Perseverance is so important in every area of life. And congratulations on your new book!

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    1. Thank you, my sweet friend! Congrats on your publication, too!!! Perseverance is so important, but can be grueling at times, but the rewards are always worth it!! Thanks for the comment!

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  8. This is wonderful. Love the way you paralleled your points with that great movie. Your personal road to publication will provide insight to many newbies just beginning the journey and remind veterans that it is never easy.

    BTW, Bill Murray's Groundhog commercial during the Super Bowl was my favorite!

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    1. Wasn't that commercial a hoot, Candyce? I loved it too! (I did check in with my husband watching the game several times to catch the score and commercials! Thanks for your sweet words - it is a journey for sure, but what a rewarding one when we let God lead and keep on keeping on!!! Blessings!

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  9. Lots of wisdom here, Julie. I've learned so much from writer's conferences and the people I've met? What a blessing. And, of course, you remind us of the key to success--Never Give UP! Thank you.

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    1. I learn so much at every single conference I attend! And the friendships formed while there and nurtured afterwards via social media and email keep me encouraged until I can see those friends in person again at another conference!!

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  10. This is very inspiring and also a lessen to be open to new ideas and the recommendations of experts!

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