A few people have been talking about what they took home from this year’s Write! Canada conference this year. (E.g. Janet Sketchley's blog)
What did I bring home? Memories.
Most of us are familiar with the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken,” with its famous ending,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!
I must have read that book out loud a thousand times or more over the years. It was one of my sons’ favourites. Okay, one of my favourites too. :)
Basically, it’s about the reality that one small thing can lead to another and that leads to another and so forth. As I look back on my life, so many things, all of which seemed minor or random at the time, resulted in meaningful things later on.
This year's conference was my 26th.
In the fall of 1988, I went for the first time because a friend "happened to mention" that there was going to be a writers’ conference at Ontario Bible College in Toronto that November. Although I felt weird going, because I wasn’t a “real” writer, I went.
|N. J. Lindquist with her husband Les and their family in 1992.|
The following year I submitted a couple of things for critiques, and was told by the editor of a major American Publishing company that I was definitely a good enough writer to have my book published and be able to afford a housekeeper—my goal at the time. (Said editor thought I was writing about hockey in my novel when it was actually curling, but I ignored that part. :))
In 1991, I had my first book published (by Moody Press), I had a Judges Choice story published in the Toronto Star, and I had several acceptances from magazines, many of them because of appointments or random conversations at God Uses Ink.
Conference director Audrey Dorsch asked me to teach my first workshop at God Uses Ink that year, with editor/author Elma Schemenauer, because Elma said she’d prefer to teach with someone else. Soon after, because I’d sent a letter to Audrey offering suggestions, I was asked to become part of the steering committee.
Fast forward to June, 2001, and the Wednesday night before the conference. I was part of a small group of Canadian faculty who were told that the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada was unable to continue putting on God Uses Ink, and this would be the last year.
At that time, there was email and Yahoo groups were starting to build up, but there was little in the way of social media, blogs, etc. The God Uses Ink conference was still my only tangible link to other Canadian writers and editors who were Christian. The others in our group, including the current conference director Bill Fledderus, felt the same way I did—that we had to find a way to keep it going—but no one knew how to do that. We prayed for help.
I woke up before 6:00 Thursday morning with the scary but strong assurance that God wanted me to keep the conference going. At 6:30, I phoned my husband Les and told him what had happened.
Knowing my goal was to write full-time while we started a church plant in the area we’d just moved into, Les asked me if I was sure that this what God wanted me to do.
“Yes,” I said. I had complete peace about it.
Without a second’s delay, he said, “Okay, then. Do what you need to do. We’ll make it work.”
As we went through that long summer, there were many meetings with other writers as well as people from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and we had to prepare all sorts of proof that we could handle it, and that we were the best people to do it.
We eventually got permission to use the God Uses Ink name, and then we had to scramble to organize the conference for the following year. At that point, Wendy and I took on official roles with The Word Guild as Executive Director (me) and Associate Director (Wendy) as well as co-directors of the conference.
Because Les had had experience as a church treasurer, he took on the thankless and generally frustrating job of treasurer, and began attending all of our meetings. He had little personal interest in writing at that time, and had begun the journey only to support me, but now he began to “get” it, and to become just as passionate as we were to make this happen.
In November, writer/editor Denyse O’Leary connected us with John Franklin, director of Imago, and The Word Guild was accepted as a project. This gave us credibility and also enabled us to raise money and give tax receipts. Wendy and her parents, Les and I, and a few others, put in as much money as we could so we’d have some capital.
|N. J. with Larry Willard at God Uses Ink in 2002.|
And 13 years later, The Word Guild and its flagship conference, now called Write Canada, are still here, still helping writers like me learn what they need to learn to make a difference.
Wendy and I usually get the bulk of the credit, and while we appreciate our efforts being remembered, many people played a part, not only in the beginning when the small group of us were adamant to keep the conference going, but over the years when many have taken leadership roles, prayed, encouraged, taught, and done a variety of things as God has directed.
If I had to list everyone who has taken on a role with The Word Guild, this blog would be ginormous! The good thing is, God knows. And really, we were doing it because we believed it's what He wanted us to do.
|Wendy (on left) and N. J. (on right) with Sandra Manning (middle), getting the |
Leading Women Award for Communications and Media in Calgary in 2006.
Just as I hope that's why you do what you do. Even though we may not see where it's going at the beginning. I just wanted to write, and then to keep the conference going. Everything else was God's plan, not mine.
I expect that each of us can look back on our lives and see the chain of events that has led us to where we are today. One little yes or no, one random or not too random path taken or not taken, can truly make all the difference.
|N. J. and Les with The Word Guild member Sally Meadows. |
Photo taken by Sally's husband.
Funny how these things go, isn’t it? Or maybe not.
N. J. Lindquist is writing a third mystery and a memoir, among other things.
You can get a free book at http://www.njlindquist.com and a free short story at http://jamenzies.com. Yes, she has two identities now.