Visit that sweet spot in your imagination and picture the following: The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Pancho and Cisco. Can you picture Lucy without Ricky, Fred, or Ethel? Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Anne of Green Gables and Diana. Would the genius of Gilbert have been the same without Sullivan? And, where would Duck Dynasty be without its colorful cast? Phil, Si, Jase, Willie, Jep, Korie, and Kay.
Me? I had neither sidekick nor chanting groupie. I often sat solitary, wishing to know people like myself, who enjoy the writing process. When I found and attended ACFW Arkansas, my world changed from black and white to living color. How wonderful to walk into a room full of writers and to be understood without saying a word. Attempts at trying to make people understand what I do often transpire like the day I attended an art show and ran into an old friend from high school.
My friend asked, “What do you do?”
When I replied that I am a writer, she asked if I wrote children’s books. A common and frustrating assumption when people know I’ve been home with children for many years.
“No, I write adult books.”
My friend’s facial expression dropped. “I don’t read those.”
“Well, I don’t write those either. I write inspirational fiction.”
“Oh, then you’re published?” A smile curved her lips.
“No… Not yet… I do have a collection of short stories published.”
Her sincere smile radiated brighter. “Then why don’t you get published?”
At that point my eyelashes must have blinked along with my stutter. “Well, you see, I’d like to, but it is a small and competitive market.”
My friend gnawed her lower lip. “A what?” Oh, to be understood without saying a word.
How are my professional friends at ACFW like sidekicks? They are inseparable companions. I highly esteem them. They are knowledgeable of the writing industry and craft. How do they support? They encourage, equip, and ground me.
ACFW is about relationships. Yes, iron sharpens iron, and skills are honed by critique partners and practice prompts, but the human connections made at ACFW are worth more than fame, gold, or a published book. If we come to ACFW looking for how it will make us a success rather than how we can contribute to make our companions successful, then we have failed. God wants us to write. He’s planted that desire in our hearts, and you can argue that getting your book in print will enable you to reach more people. But the people in your day to day life, the relationships you form among your family members, close friends, and acquaintances have always been more important to God than anything else. He is by design a relational God who loves people first.
So, what has ACFW done for me? The friendships I’ve fostered, the people whom I have selected to walk alongside, I’ve chosen to make you my sweet spots. The writing? While it is important to me, it is not as important as you.