One Writer's Journey

The long-awaited trip to Mount Hermon is over. It was wonderful, it was exhausting, it was a journey that I will always remember. Every year is different and precious in its own way. And yet, in the midst of all the excitement--meeting with editors, learning from talented writers, wondering when I'll get a chance to sleep--I've finally realized what is most important.

The people.

I spend so much time, between my day job as an editor and my night job as an aspiring novelist, behind the flat-world screen of a computer, that I sometimes wonder if I'm as fictional as my characters. Let me take that back. I really do think my characters are more real than I am. They have a life. (I am smiling as I write this.) They constantly interact with the rest of the world. I, on the other hand, constantly withdraw from the world in order to create my version of art.

So when I get to meet other writers and editors face-to-face I feel like a kid during recess.

This year I took a few photos of the people who inspire me. There were many more people at the conference that I didn't get to take pictures of, probably because of my closet shyness. That and my secret fear that I'm invisible. But for today, I'll go with the theory that I am, in fact, visible, and that I really did get to meet these people. These wonderful, exciting, talented people.

I miss them already.

The conference began when I met all of my roommates: Catherine Madera, Julie Garmon, and B.J. Taylor. B.J. and I have been in a writer's group together for about five years. We've also attended the Yosemite Writer's Conference, ACW Conference, Orange County Christian Writer's Fellowship conference, and SDSU Writer's Conference together.

This was the first year I served as a mentor for first-timers at Mount Hermon. Rhonda Pringle was one of my "buddies" and we got the opportunity to discuss things like pitches, submissions and critiques.

One of the members of my writer's group, Andrea Verde, attended Mount Hermon for the first time this year.

This was Lindsay Culbert's first writer's conference and we hung out together quite a bit. In between walking in the woods and attending classes, we often chatted in the central lounge. The woman in the background is Tosca Lee.

Everybody needs a best buddy who will make them laugh and who will always understand the perils of invisibility. For me, that buddy is Tracey Higley.

I can't wait until Katie Vorreiter's books get published, because I want the rest of the world to get to meet her. Anybody who can make me laugh in less than a minute deserves an award. Katie, I think I owe you about 600 awards already.

For me, every conference has a handful of super-stars who also happen to be super-nice. John Olson is one of those super-talented, super-great guys. Here he is signing a book for one of my fellow Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers, Carla Stewart.

What would the blogging universe be without fellow bloggers who love science fiction and fantasy? It would be a black, empty void. Lifeless and dull. I met Becky Miller [A Christian Worldview of Fiction] at Mount Hermon last year and we've become close friends since then. But this was the first time I got to meet Marcus Goodyear [The High Calling].

Always one of my favorite people to hang out with, partly because he has a great sense of humor, and partly because he always has the inside scoop on what's going on in the publishing industry, is Steve Laube. Maybe that's why a large group of us gathered every night in the central lounge, laughing and telling stories until long after midnight.

This is only a tiny glimpse of the gathering that formed in central lounge in the evenings. When the normal folk rested, we partied. Among those who often stayed out later than they should were John Olson, Randy Ingermanson and Camy Tang.

Mount Hermon 2008 is over. Mount Hermon 2009 stands on the horizon, masked in shadow, full of promise. It is an event that marks my progress as a writer. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to be a blessing to beginning writers, just like some of these people have been a blessing to me.

Always and forever, I pray that the journey that leads me up the mountain is also a journey that leads me nearer to the God I love.


L.L. Barkat said...

I really enjoyed meeting you. And I had no idea that I'd seen you in the blogosphere before the conference (realizing that now).

Merrie Destefano said...

Blogging is so funny, isn't it? I had the same reaction when I ran into many people at the conference.

It was great to meet you, too, and although I wasn't able to attend your class, I have already ordered it on MP3. I'm looking forward to learning all the great stuff you, Mark and Becky taught in your classes!


B.J. Taylor said...

Wonders never cease. We ended up rooming together, which was not supposed to happen. We ended up crying together, which at Mount Hermon is always supposed to happen (for very good reasons). We ended up on a long, leisurely walk and had a few moments for quiet prayer in the chapel. Thank you for being my wonderful, way-different-from-me friend. You teach me so much about life on the other side, and I love you to pieces.

Merrie Destefano said...

You're going to make me cry all over again! It truly was a blessing to be together again in the mountains. Those scary, beautiful mountains, so symbolic of the writer's journey. Peaks and valleys, and everything in between.
So very glad you were there--
much love,