Two weeks ago, I went to Realm Makers, a conference for Christian novel writers, with my friend Emily and her mom. If you’ve been on my email list for a while, you’re probably familiar with these plans already from our fundraising efforts. Emily and I are so grateful to our generous supporters who made this happen.
Now, I owe it to you guys to share some of my takeaways. In this post, you’ll find four things I love about Realm Makers and nine things I took away from the experience.
Four Things I Loved About Realm Makers
As a writer, going to any writing conference sounds like an amazing experience. However, there were four things that made Realm Makers even more amazing.
#1: The conference is introvert-aware.
It was sweet how the leaders and speakers at the conference would acknowledge the introvert population.
They knew that people were going to crash and advised us to take breaks. Extroverts were encouraged to “adopt” introverts and help them meet people. We put “talkable” stickers on our nametags if we were willing to talk to people.
Many of the speakers admitted that they were introverts themselves, which was pretty inspiring.
#2: The speakers are honest and humble.
As Emily mentioned once, it didn’t seem like any of the authors were putting up a front. They were all so honest and humble and wonderful to hear from. CJ Redwine shared some super funny stories about food-related accidents at the closing keynote.
#3: The speakers were also very humorous!
Leading off that last point, so many speakers were super witty, spontaneous, and funny. They were often willing to go a little off-subject to share an amusing story, which annoyed me a bit but was totally worth it. Literary agent Steve Laube and author Sara Ella teased each other, and martial artist Carla Hoch taught authors how to murder their characters. It was fantastic.
#4: I had built-in friends.
I got to meet so many of my online friends from the Young Writer’s Workshop while I was there. It was so crazy to recognize faces everywhere from profile pictures, and cool to see that they were real people too. =) Everyone was so sweet and creative and amazing, and it was nice to have people with whom to sit.
Nine Things the Trip Taught Me
I came away with a lot of lessons from this trip. Here are nine things the trip taught me.
#1: Traveling and managing finances.
The trip taught me about a lot more than writing. It gave me some valuable experience with organizing an itinerary and planning a trip on a budget.
I also got some more practice navigating airports, which will be so helpful when I fly to college and back home on a regular basis.
#2: Talking with people.
Over my teen years, I’ve worked a lot on pushing myself out of my comfort zone and learning to be less shy. It was beneficial to practice that some more, and also encouraging to see my efforts pay off. I let myself pretend to be a people-driven extrovert for a while, and I found myself really enjoying bits of small talk with other writers.
#3: Learning about motivation.
Authors don’t do what they do for money; they do it for the love of the craft. They don’t go to conferences only for business advancement; they do it for learning and connections and friendships and fun.
There’s a lot more to this lesson, too. Stay tuned for the full blog post in a couple weeks or so!
#4: Realizing that authors are real people.
This ties into my point about how the Realm Makers speakers were so honest and humble. They acknowledged the mistakes they had made along the way and shared embarrassing stories. The published author life looked less glamorous by the end, but that was actually really encouraging because it seemed more like something within reach.
#5: Deepening my online relationships.
Remember the built-in friends I mentioned? It was so cool to meet them in the flesh and get to know them better. I know that I’ll be staying in touch with them, and our shared Realm Makers memories will be a special part of these friendships.
#6: Meeting authors and professionals.
I got to get some books signed and some photos with these people!!!
On a less fangirly note, these connections are helpful to my career because I can say, “Hey, I met you at Realm Makers,” and some of them might have time for a quick question (or maybe even time to give me feedback on a book chapter if I’m lucky!).
Which brings me to my next point…
#7: Asking questions.
I got to chat with two editors about their career paths, I asked a literary agent (Steve Laube!) about preparing a manuscript for publication, and I talked with two people working in publishing on the subject of internships. It was awesome to have those opportunities.
#8: Listening to new perspectives.
When a question is commonly asked on the Young Writer’s Workshop, often the community develops a specific answer for that question. Someone with authority gives an answer, and everyone learns that answer and agrees on it.
I actually like this system better than googling a question and getting a bunch of different answers. It’s really helpful to have a reliable, go-to source of writing pointers.
However, it’s also really healthy to listen to new voices every once in a while. Going to Realm Makers helped me to get a bit more diversity in my writing community and remember that some questions don’t have a single black-and-white answer.
#9: Appreciating the resources I already have.
Going to a conference helped me realize that I already have so many resources at my fingertips, right here at home. I have the Young Writer’s Workshop to thank for a lot of that. Through the YWW community, I found many many more resources and connections even before the conference. I know what blogs and podcasts can answer my questions, and I’ve been in contact with several authors. But most of all, it is such a blessing to have so many writer friends online. They have pushed me to keep writing, to write better, and to write for God.
What Do You Think?
When was the last time you went on a trip or to a camp or to a conference? What was the biggest thing it taught you? Please do share!