I just returned from teaching at the American Society of Journalists and Authors conference. This was the first in-person conference in two years. In addition to teaching, learning was a big part of the experience. Even greater than knowledge gained, were the connections made with other writers, editors, and agents.
I met several first-time attendees at the airport, and we shared a taxi. Later, I met more first-timers and others at an impromptu dinner organized through social media. We bonded and interacted with each other frequently during the next two days. These connections reminded me of the importance of personal contact, support, and shared life stories.
Following are some ways we connected:
This year, the conference attendance was lower because COVID is still an issue. To some, this may be seen as a negative, but the opportunity to meet people and talk on a more-than-surface level was greater. We saw each other more often and connected in a deeper way than at most conferences.
Encouragement and Support
Client Connections is an event that allows conferees to talk to editors and agents in a speed dating type format. Even for seasoned writers, this is a little intimidating. Those of us who had participated in Client Connections before could encourage and calm those who were new to the process. Encouraging and supporting strengthens relationships.
Be Open to Conversation
Over shared meals, we learned about each other’s lives. Often, we hold our burdens close and don’t talk about them in our normal environment. In a different setting, with people we hardly know, the barriers we’ve erected sometimes come tumbling down. We don’t have to worry about confidentiality with these new friends. They come from all over the country, and the world. As we talked, I was reminded we all have different hard stuff in our lives. Even though our circumstances are unique, we can understand challenges, encourage, and pray.
Often, after a conference, there is no follow-up with those we meet. I believe this post-conference will be different. I miss these new friends already and will make an effort to continue interacting with them, not just for the information we can share about writing, but because I care about them and their lives.
Shouldn’t it always be that way? Shouldn’t we always care for each other on a deeper level and seek to make connecting about interest, care, and support rather than what we might gain from the relationship?
In this life, we often struggle, but connections that become friendships are of great value. The God-given gift of friends is a blessing, one that helps us sustain forward motion.
“So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 VOICE).
The God-given gift of friends is a blessing, one that helps us sustain forward motion.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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