By Keith Turley
“Talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of human life.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It was two years ago that nothing less than a miracle occurred that allowed me to be a participant at the first Faith & Culture Writers Connection in 2011. While it may be cliche to say that those events and the conference “changed my life”, in so many ways I can never go back to where I was before.
In 2010 I had made a decision that I was going to write a book, something that I had put off and resisted for many years, though I was encouraged by several close friends. I had been writing a devotional email several times a week to a dear group of “peeps” that had grown from what was at one time just my bible study to a group of nearly 100 people that I now considered friends. So, as I began to formulate how to go about writing a book I began to look at writing groups, and then writing conferences. I was a writer of devotional emails, not an author of a book. What did I know about the process, let alone the qualifications?
In my Google wanderings I found out about the 2011 Conference. It was fairly easy to make the decision to go, but finding a place to stay (coming from Bellingham, WA) was a struggle as I didn’t have the resources to commit to a hotel room. But I did find a place to stay with friends in Portland. Then, literally on the Wednesday before the conference those housing plans fell through and I gave in to my not wanting to drive down at 5:00am Saturday morning. I shared as much with Cornelia, as we had shared many emails to this point. She encouraged me to not give up. So, I made literally one last desperate call to some friends up river in White Salmon, and found I had a place to stay.
Probably my most powerful experience of the conference was finally meeting Cornelia. She was the only person I “knew” so I sought her out right away, and despite her other duties she made me feel part of a community that was new to me. Paul Louis Metzger’s keynote paved the way for incredible breakout sessions. Each session I attended was so valuable. In between sessions and during lunch I was able to meet not only other writers, but got a chance to talk with speakers and agents. Every conversation I had was so encouraging that I left with new contacts and friends, and the confidence that I could not only write but also publish book. I had the content. As a graphic designer and writer I had the skills, now I had new encouragement from new friends and other writers, I had new information, I had new confidence. I knew I could self-publish a book, which began another journey that has resulted in two published books…a journey which I will share at this year’s conference.
Fast forward…I still have the email from October 2012 where Cornelia invited me to speak at this year’s conference. Me? From a guest to a speaker? Once I picked myself off the floor, it only took me a few minutes to get past my fear of speaking and say yes. Cornelia’s friendship and support, even from a state away, made it so easy to say yes. Then the next day the topic of “why I write” was already formulating as the main subject, a topic I am so looking forward to sharing with others, as I believe it is foundational to all writers. For me, knowing the “why” of my writing gets me through many days I simply don’t want to or feel I can find the time to write.
I can not wait to be a speaker and participant at the Conference this year, it is such an honor, and such an invitation from Cornelia, who has become an incredible gift in my life.