The Stress and Joy of Attending a Writers' Conference

by Sally Matheny

We've all experienced times, when one thing after another seems to pelt us with discouragement. 

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.

Two days before I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference I found myself overwhelmed. If it weren’t for the non-refundable deposit, I would have surely backed out. 

It all started with an umbrella.

Two days before the conference, my umbrella flipped its lid during a rainstorm and never recovered. I kept forgetting to pick up a new one. Then I heard they were calling for rain during the week of the conference.

The night before my departure, I begged my husband to pick one up on his way home from work. 

My directions were explicit. It needed to be a one-push-button, compact umbrella. He even called me from the parking lot asking what a push-button umbrella looked like. He assured me he knew what I meant. 

Somewhere between his car, and the aisle with his favorite little blueberry muffins, he forgot all about the umbrella.

When the muffins arrived home, without an umbrella, I dashed to the little store down the street. I grabbed one of the one-push-button umbrellas near the checkout and dashed back home to finish packing.
I should have tested the umbrella at the store. That umbrella weighed less than the six dollars I paid for it. One slight breeze would result in another soggy disaster. I threw it in the back of the van and prayed for sunshine.

There were several misadventures during the week:

·         My room had a broken air conditioner (God quickly sent a repairman).

·         The microwave beeped erratically at all times of the night (I pulled the plug).

·         I became disoriented on campus on numerous occasions (God sent me a new friend to guide me each time).

·         I was locked inside my room, on the third floor, due to a faulty lock (I got out. How I got out is a miraculous story I’ll save for later!)

These things kept me laughing and made for good conversation at meal times.  However, not everything was humorous.

 Early in the week, I was overwhelmed with some writing work I had brought with me. Deadlines looming, I was second guessing every word I wrote.

Then self-doubt began to pour through my clouded thinking.

I tried to pray often when writing but occasionally I allowed Satan to drop a negative thought in my head.
"Who are you to do this?”