Today I’m sharing another conference story. A male conference attendee. Male writer’s do attend conferences but they are in the minority. I hope you find Timothy Fountain’s story as inspiring as I did.
Marlene Bagnull’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) is inseparable from the publication of my first book, Raising a Child With Autism.
I attended the conference twice and liken the experiences to two kinds of fire: inspiring (Acts 2:3) and refining (Psalm 12:6).
The inspiring fire came via GPCWC’s guiding mission, “Write His (God’s) answer” (Habakkuk 2:2). The conference encourages and challenges writers to identify their particular proclamation of Christ and the genre of writing by which to convey it. All of the writers who lead workshops reinforce this approach.
As the parent of a child with autism, I was in touch with family caregivers’ need for Christ’s comfort, encouragement and hope. This was the inspiration for my book.
Prayer and worship are organic to the conference, and it wraps up with a service in which the participants write down a commitment of what they are being led to write. In this way I came away from the conference with more than an idea; I gained an inspired offering to God.
A second trip to the conference brought refining fire, burning away stuff that had more to do with my ego than with God’s purpose for the book. There were stylistic critiques, of course, but larger than these were two refinements of my vision for the book as a whole.
First, because the conference afforded opportunities to talk with other Christian writers, I was able to express my worry that I couldn’t write the book because I was still in the middle of care giving. “Maybe I should wait until my son is grown up and placed in residential care, so I can write from completed experience.”
The more seasoned writer’s response burned away that misconception. “No, no, no,” was her reply, “you’re not writing as ‘the expert.’ You’re writing as a witness to the Lord who is helping you in the middle of this.”
The second refining blaze came when I met Eddie Jones and others from my eventual publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). The writing samples I provided them were in memoir form, a factually bland and emotionally overwrought telling of my experiences. Eddie and his team challenged me to write something more creative, to seek a central metaphor on which to hang the message.
This sent me huffing off to rewrite. The result was sample chapters using amateur gardening misadventures with my wife as symbols of caring for our son with special needs. I sent these in to LPC and was stunned to open my email one morning to find their offer to publish my book.
The coaching, connections and spiritual component at the conferences were the difference between another ego soaked memoir sitting in a rejection pile and a published book of reflections offering Christ’s care to family caregivers.
More about Timothy Fountain
Timothy Fountain grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California despite having no football skills. After a stint running a jackhammer and then three years in the Army, he abandoned thoughts of a legal career, attended a seminary in New York City, and devoted almost thirty years to Christian preaching. He and his wife, Melissa, and their two sons, one a lad with autism, moved to South Dakota in 2004. Tim continues a life of trial and error as a husband, dad, family care giver, preacher and writer.
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Fountain/e/B01N1LVF17