Monday, September 23, 2013

His Perfect Pace at ACFW

Wow. Has it already been eleven days? It seems like yesterday that I was turning onto the highway toward my fourth ACFW conference! And this year, it came full my first conference was in the same place...Indianapolis. It is at that first conference that I pitched the same characters (cannot call it the same book, now,after three years of rewrites), met the first of my many friends and co-Alleycats, and basically fell in love with the writing community.

The difference between the last 8 hour drive to Indy in 2010, and this one, is I drove it alone this year...didn't drag my family of five(was expecting our fourth), and pawn them off at the Indy zoo, while I ventured to the Hyatt. This year, I was alone with Jesus, listening to His music, and anxiously looking forward to wrapping my arms around my sweet sweet friends.

As I crept closer, my foot grew heavy though, and I sped along the highway, fighting off the old anxious ways of the newbie I once was, and ignoring the signs that were telling me to slow down. I noticed the $375 minimum fine in the work zone, and I saw the orange cones. I kept up with traffic though, surely I wouldn't get caught. It was just a scare tactic...that big chunk of change. I was on a mission to get to ACFW, I wanted to get there fast and feel the happiness of being among friends and writers, and the thrill of showcasing what God has done, to editors. I kept my foot on the pedal, continued at a consistent distance from the car ahead, and slammed on the brakes when the roadside digital display of my speed showed I was 9 miles over and a flash indicated a photo had been taken.
I thought I could beat the odds, because I didn't believe they were really keeping track. My biggest excuse being that I was keeping up with traffic...were they going to ticket all of us? But in the end, the ugly truth flashed in front of me and I was not keeping up with the expectations of the law enforcement. I had raced ahead, only to feel the big fat EXPENSIVE slap of defeat.

After attending four conferences, and looking back over how far I've come (maybe not to publication, but to some sort of maturity in the process)...I realize how that traffic incident is a mirror of the writing journey as I first embarked upon it:

Beat the odds: When I wrote my first story, and began to dabble in the writing circles, I honestly thought I would not fall into the "norm" of a long journey toward publication. I poo-pooed the idea of putting my first book in a drawer never to see the light of day. And I thought, "I will show them" when it came to the extensiveness of such an endeavor as publication. Just like my zipping by the warning signs on the road, I zipped by the words of mentors and authors who said, "Writing is not for the faint at heart."

Keeping up with traffic: When I first stepped into an ACFW conference, and pitched my novel, and compared my notes with others, hearing what agents and editors had asked for, wondering why I didn't get asked for that...I began to try and keep up with the traffic so to speak. I decided to write something else, to enter contests, to put that long list of awards beneath my name, to be sure I stalked the white board at the appointments desk each year and rack up the requests. EVEN IF MY STUFF WASN'T READY...I was not going to be left behind without success.

Facing the Ugly truth:  And that truth, just like the failure of maintaining the expected speed on the highway, the ugly truth of my writing journey before this conference, was that all those attempts, all those written words, ALL those rejections, pointed to the truth that I just wasn't ready. I didn't meet the expectations of the editors, and I paid the price of a wounded ego.
This year, after much rejection under my belt, I realize that the ugly truth of trying to beat the odds and speed along in striving toward publication, the ugly truth that I tried to keep up with "traffic" or the success of others, and facing the ugly but WONDERFUL truth that I just wasn't ready before, has led me to a place where cruise control in God's plan is so much more satisfying. I continue to see the lessons he had taught me during the self-induced race before. And now, I am ready to shout out and claim this journey as uniquely my own, at my own God-induced speed!

This year, I leave behind another ACFW conference knowing the importance of abiding, giving my journey to God, and realizing that publication is not the proof of my gift, but a fruit among many on the writing branch in my heart. Yes, there is always that niggle of comparison, that shadow of regret, but if I shake it off, point my heart toward the LIGHT of God's Grace, and release the pressure on that gas pedal toward success, He'll guide me down this road of my dream at His Most Perfect Pace.
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, this is wonderful, Angie! You are such a powerful woman of God and I've been so blessed by your journey. Know that you have been encouraging others in the pauses, too, yet I know what you mean about wanting to keep up with traffic. Been in that place many times and still sometimes.

Joanne Sher said...

What a great post - AND analogy. You've come SO far, Angie! Thanks for sharing!

Beth K. Vogt said...

" ... publication is not the proof of my gift, but a fruit among many on the writing branch in my heart."

Angie: We learn this truth on either side of publication. You are a wise woman for embracing it now.
Love this post -- and you too!

Angie Dicken said...

Oh Julia, you are so sweet and affirming! I struggle along this path so much, and the Alleycats have been there on the rollercoaster, holding my hand and forcing me to CALM DOWN! Thank you!!

Angie Dicken said...

Joanne! Thanks for being such a great Alley pal! Hope you have a beautiful day.

Angie Dicken said...


Oh goodness, wise woman just seems so not me! HA! I am so thankful to have authors like you, pouring into us aspiring writers. It was great to see you at conference, even for a few fleeting moments! Love ya too!

Pepper said...

Love this, Ang
Isn't it amazing where we've both come since our first Indy ACFW?
Thanks for sharing your heart here. The proper perspective gives hope in our disappointments. The proper priorities give us the drive to put feet on those hopes.
THANK the LORD, when we focus on Him He helps us with both.

Love you, my sweet friend!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Angie, thank you for this post. What an encouragement. I'm sorry about your ticket, though. You share so many embrace-worthy truths. Like Beth, my favorite line was:

"...Publication is not the proof of my gift, but a fruit among many on the writing branch in my heart."

I need to remember my affirmation doesn't come from being published, it comes from who I am in Jesus, and how He fulfills His plans in me.

Thanks for this!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Love this post!

So glad I got to meet so many of you at conference. You guys are the cat's meow :)

Angie Dicken said...

Pepper, As I've always said, you are so wise and eloquent! Love you too!

Angie Dicken said...

I haven't gotten the ticket yet! We'll see if it shows up in my mailbox or if they have a hard time tracing my plates since I was in a different state. Obviously I've thought about this alot!! HA!

Angie Dicken said...


Glad I got to meet you at conference also! Thanks for stopping by the Alley!


Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Such a wonderful post, Ang! Brilliant analogy, and so true. I love the photo of you in your "keep calm" shirt, too.