Final Thoughts on the Ancient Faith Conference

I recently shared some thoughts about the Ancient Faith Writing Conference. Well, there is so much to share that I have two more perspectives for you! My experience as a mother of a writer, and my experience as a writer:

A Mother of a Writer

My oldest daughter, Scarlett is also a writer. She is going to Lakeland University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing. I am so proud of her for pursuing her dream. She has wanted to be a writer since before she could write. If you’re interested, I shared a bit about that here.

While I enjoyed the time away with my daughter, it was also an exciting experience for me to witness the conference through her perspective as well. Being there while she was learning and interested in the conference workshops and talks, I enjoyed seeing Scarlett be her usual friendly, chatty and witty self with all the people we met. The best thing for me was hearing others encourage her to write some of her experiences as someone who has grown up attending a monastery. I’ve encouraged her to do this for years. On the car ride home, she finally realized it was a good idea! She also has a unique idea for a children’s book which she has been working on since we came back home. The conference was a great learning opportunity, and wonderful spiritual experience for Scarlett and I am grateful to have had it with her.

A Writer

As I’ve been able to get back into writing, I’ve asked myself a lot of questions:
Am I promoting my work enough?
What topics should I cover?
Which book projects should I pursue?
How much of our family life should I share?
How much of my personal struggles should I share?
How best can I serve the Church in my writing vocation?

Because I have a large family and a lot of responsibilities, I have to choose carefully the things I invest my time and energy in. Writing is a lot of work for Manny and me. Manny’s name rarely ends up on any of my writing, but he is a huge help. We work out ideas together, and he edits almost everything I write.

I write because I believe God has called me to the work, often I’ll reflect on how I’m doing because I want to please God and write for Him and not myself. The conference ended up being just what I needed to rein in some of my worries and the creative mania that hits me from time to time. I left feeling at peace about my work, inspired and encouraged to continue writing, and excited about moving forward in a clear and practical manner.

Finding peace was the most important thing for me. Let me explain why. There is a whole social media side and promotion side to writing that I am not a fan of. I hate sales and hate when things are sensationalized. The “competition” for readers from other bloggers/writers is insane. One of the speakers at the conference shared the staggering amount of content created every single day. Another issue for me (if it is indeed a problem) is we are a super-tiny-micro-niche–I’m an Eastern Catholic writing about monasticism and how to integrate monastic practices into one’s life and family to grow in holiness.

So all these things used to leave me feeling anxious, and wondering if I should be doing more with my work. Used to, being the key words. Thanks to the fantastic speakers at the conference I am passed that and hope to stay on track. These were the highlights from the several presentations that helped me:

Dr. Albert Rossi was emphasizing the need to write from silence and prayer. To let God fight for me, which put me at ease about the promotion side of writing. I should do what I can without being anxious and leave the rest in God’s hands. He said to write according to God’s will and not for what will please my ego as a writer. (Brother Isaac wrote a beautiful piece about this which you can read here.)

Dr. Rossi also stressed that writing is for my salvation which I firmly believe. Writing is a part of my vocation in life, and through it I encounter God–or at least I should be if I am following His will and not my own. The lessons I learn about writing also translate to the rest of my life–God is found everywhere and in all things!

Dr. Nicole Roccas helped me understand what drives me to complete writing tasks. She gave excellent writing and time management tips. She also made me realize how silly it is for me to hate the promotion side of writing. This was a huge hurdle for me to overcome. Dr. Roccas asked us why we would not want to serve people by sharing our work. She made me think of the promotion of my work as part of the service I am doing already. Makes perfect sense right? What good am I doing if no one sees it?!

Caroline Langston shared her experience as an Orthodox writer who writes for secular sources as well as religious ones. She emphasized the need to share our stories and faith in ways that non-religious could become intrigued and want to learn more. I enjoyed her talk very much.

Melinda Johnson who was the heart of the entire conference gave an informative and inspiring workshop about creating content and promotion. Again, this helped me tremendously with my hang-ups. She emphasized the need for writers to work together as a team and not see one another as competition. I 100% believe this and will continue looking for ways to share my fellow Catholic, and Orthodox writers work. I know how much I need them to share mine and appreciate it when they do. We are sharing the Gospel message and should help one another grow. It’s good for all of us.

Bill Marianes and missionary Nathan Hoppe really made me think about why I write, who I’m trying to reach, and how best can I do achieve my goals. Both speakers were highly motivating in different ways. We were blessed to have such a diverse group of speakers sharing their life experiences as Eastern Orthodox Christians.

I am extremely grateful to have been able to attend the conference. Scarlett and I were both able to go thanks to a generous friend who paid a significant portion of the cost–if you are reading this, again thank you so much! 

Scarlett, Brother Isaac, and I as we were leaving the lovely Antiochian Village and heading home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. I really hate social media! I ran across the idea to blog from a Mormon site. They not only encouraged Mormons to blog, but had a support site that would help them get started. I thought the idea was a really good one and Catholics should be doing it, too; so I started blogging. You should have seen how upset I was when I realized to be effective I would have to promote it on social media. I definitely know how you feel and I sympathize!

    I really enjoy your site and because of the Benedict Option being so popular I think you can teach us a lot. I say go for it.

    • Hi Rebecca! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

      Yes, the actual writing is the easy part. The technical and promotional aspects are my bane. Haha! Or were. I have a new outlook and plan about things. I’m praying that moving forward will be easier now.

      What do you write about?

      • I don’t have a hobby, but I do read a lot and listen to different podcasts. My original intent was to write a little commentary on what I’d read and heard. Turns out most of what I read and hear is religious in nature, so that’s predominantly what I wrote about. I wrote about your site once: https://thewordinmylifeblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/featured-website-every-home-a-monastery/

        I now also include some online journaling about the ministry I’m trying to get going. I feel too many people put off starting one because they don’t know how. I always wanted to help them but couldn’t do it because I didn’t know how, either. Now that I am trying to start one I decided to journal the experience, so I write about that also. I still don’t know how, but I figure if I’m willing to share my ineptitude it will make other people braver. If she can do it, then anyone can do it kinda thing.

        I wish the writing was easy for me. It takes me forever to write anything.

        You’re welcome and I look forward to reading more of your articles. Take care and God bless!

        • Hey that’s so nice of you, Rebecca! I will read the post tonight.

          Great idea to share your experience, our experience is the most fundamental thing we have to share. I look forward to reading what you’ve shared.

          Well the writing is easy relative to the tech side and promoting! Writing is work for me too. 🙂

          God bless you too!

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