The summer of 2019 I went to a writer’s conference at Wheaton College in Illinois. It was totally overwhelming. I’d been to a couple of weekend conferences before this one, and they were always like drinking from a firehose. I suppose Write-to-Publish was slightly better in this regard, since it lasted a full week and the content dump was spread out over days instead of hours. And yet, it really wasn’t the intensity of learning that overwhelmed me. Over the years I’ve honed my skills of rapid note-taking and efficiently filtering information. The overwhelming part of these conferences for me is the inevitable demand for self-promotion. If the goal is to be a published writer you must at all times be armed and ready with your Promotional Pitch.
These settings are an inevitable sorting ground, parsing the contemplative introvert—which has to be a high percentage of writers, don’t you think?—from the truly extroverted communicator. I road-tripped to Wheaton with a relatively new friend who epitomized Group B. Heather was on FIRE. She rocked networking and question-asking and she was a tireless external processor. At least that’s how she appeared to me. The upside being, as my roommate and friend, Heather was great at pitching ME. She was not at all self-focused. In fact, she had this amazing gift of championing every single wanna-be author she met.
I on the other hand spent the week internally processing on overdrive and in desperate need of a nap. As proof…at the conclusion of the conference, luggage loaded into Heather’s Jeep Wrangler, GPS set in a northern direction, I collapsed into the passenger seat and immediately closed my eyes. While Heather at the wheel launched with excitement into an enthusiastic debrief. Well, what did think? What connections did you make? What are planning to DO?
I began to weep. True story. And here is how I answered—
“I just want to go home and be a Grandma.”
The fact is I did meet my future publisher at WTP and I definitely learned many things. Ironically my favorite class was about writing children’s books (deja vu to my beloved undergrad course in Children’s Literature.) And not surprisingly my least favorite conference topic was the effective use of social media. I truly enjoyed our keynote speakers and I gleaned a lot from peer critiques. But perhaps the thing that connected most deeply with the longings of my soul was a song.
To this day I can’t remember where it came from. Was it part of a worship set? Did one of the keynotes use it as an illustration? Did the lyrics appear magically on the pillow of my dorm-room bed? I have no idea.
But I still have it. Black typed lyrics on a white sheet of paper, tucked into my Write-to-Publish folder. Words reflecting the cry of my heart:
It's a mama singing songs about the Lord
It's a daddy spending family time the world says he cannot afford
These simple moments change the world…
It's visiting the widow down the street
Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs
These simple moments change the world
Of course there's nothing wrong with bigger dreams
Just don't miss the minutes on your way to bigger things
'Cause these simple moments change the world
So dream small
Don't buy the lie you've got to do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
So dream small
That said. I returned from the writer’s conference that summer with a tiny little dream.
Summer of 2022 my little book was published. It just had its six-month birthday. And as you might expect I’m asked fairly often by friends and family how the book is doing. To which I am inclined to answer—
My book is small, but God is using it. I got my dream.
I really did.
The other question people ask is—will you write another book? And the answer to this one is, “Yes. I think so.” I’m not sure of the exact details, or how it will happen, but I do know God has given me the seed of my next little dream. And just like last time, I will try to be faithful and I’ll keep on doing the next small thing…
Keep loving, keep serving, keep listening, keep learning
Keep praying, keep hoping, keep seeking, keep searching
Add up the small things and watch them grow bigger
The God who does all things makes oceans from rivers
Here’s the thing. My dreams might be small, but my God is BIG. He feeds masses with a few scraps of bread and fish. And if His dreams are the size of giants, so be it. He can make both of our dreams comes true (:
Songwriter: Josh Wilson