[Today’s guest post is from Cori Lynn, who writes of the benefits of not having your own umbrella.]
It was a rainy afternoon at the West Coast Christian Writers Conference when I shared an umbrella with Robin Jones Gunn. In that moment, what she said to me changed the way I see myself and my writing. God had planned this divine appointment months before, so let’s go back to the beginning.
A friend of mine had been begging me to attend a writer’s conference with her for a while, but I’ve always preferred spending my weekends on my couch over socializing. At this point, I’d been working on a novel to submit to Hallmark Publishing and had begun researching similar books when I ran across Sarah Sundin. After a little digging, I saw she was a Christian writer, so I bookmarked her page.
Nearly a month later, I was driving to an event and listening to Kathi Lipp’s podcast. I wasn’t paying attention to the guest as I was distracted by my GPS yelling directions at me in between Kathi’s interview questions. When I heard “Hallmark” I quickly started the podcast over only to realize the guest speaker was Robin Jones Gunn. During the interview, Robin announced she would be a keynote speaker at the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Knowing she’d accomplished what I was trying to do myself, I began to give the conference serious consideration.
As I researched it, I realized Sarah, Kathi, and a few other familiar writers were going to be in attendance. God had been preparing a path of familiarity before I even walked through the door. I looked to the sky and said, “Okay God. You win. I guess I’ll go.”
Conference Going, Prepared or Not
The weather called for rain both days of the conference. My hair doesn’t do well in humidity, but I realized the irony of God keeping my vanity in check. I mean I’m only meeting industry professionals who have the power to change my life, right? But alas, God had a reason for the rain as well.
Prior to the conference, my work life had been crazy busy, so I’d come a bit unprepared. I struggled during lunch deciding on which afternoon session to attend. I was torn with so many good options. After much internal debate, I chose Robin’s session with a plan to listen to my writer Yoda share her Jedi wisdom.
A friend of mine asked if I was going to ask a question and I replied I didn’t want to sound dumb by opening my mouth. About 20 minutes into the discussion I found myself opening my mouth anyway. “What advice would you have given yourself when you first started?” I asked. She replied, “Good question,” which immediately squelched my internal fears of inadequacy. As I write this a week later, I apologize in advance for the below paraphrase of her response.
“First, I’d have told myself not to be afraid, because at the time, my fear had been making my choices for me. Second, I’d have told myself no matter what I wrote and what the critics said or how much rejection I received, my writing was still art to God.”
It was as if God had spoken directly to me in her reply. The rest of her session went by too fast, ending before the crowd was ready to leave. I was chatting with my friend Karen as the crowd dispersed, leaving the two of us and Robin who’d been packing up.
“You want me to introduce you?” Karen asked. She’d had a chance to meet Robin on a project prior to attending the conference. I told her I was fine keeping my anonymity in the relationship, but God had other ideas. Robin came over to us and began chatting like it was no big deal and we made our way outside as the rain began to pour.
We conversed about Hallmark and other writing projects as we strolled along. We came to a point where there was no more shelter and Robin said, “If you both want to squeeze under my umbrella you can.” Robin has the faith of a mustard seed if she thought all three of us were going to fit under the tiny umbrella, but Karen and I obliged hoping the shelter would keep us dry on our journey. This moment was a beautiful parallel to our world of writing. Here you have a professional author offering a pair of rookie’s shelter from the storm, but Robin had shared more than an umbrella that day, she’d shared her wisdom and experience with us; encouraging us through the storms we’d encounter as up and coming authors.
Once we reached the lobby, I asked Robin a question that had been on my mind. I asked if she felt spiritual warfare played a role in a fiction writer’s life. She said it most definitely did. I mentioned I felt silly thinking it would play a role in my writing since I wrote for entertainment. She said, “Your writing is meant to shine light in a dark world and the enemy does not want that, even if it is written for entertainment.” She ended by telling me her keynote speech the following day would touch more on this topic… and she wasn’t wrong. As she shared her last speech I listened with different ears but what had changed?
I realized my writing mattered to God, the life struggles preventing me from sharing my gift were real and my fear had been making too many choices for my writing. I went to the conference feeling trapped, but I left excited about the risks that would require a step of faith. Since that day, God has presented doors that are requiring such faith. Bill Giovannetti, another conference speaker, said it best. “I am responsible for faith, God is responsible for outcomes.”
Suddenly, the pressure I’d been carrying was lifted. All because one day I shared an umbrella with the person God had planned for me to meet all along.
A native of Phoenix Arizona, Cori was raised in a creative family and loves making people laugh. Cori has written two full length screenplays that were produced in Phoenix and has scripted multiple successful short films. In 2009, she won “Audience Choice” award for “The Treehouse” and in 2010, she won “Best Story” award for “Masterpiece” at The Phoenix Film Festival.
Cori graduated with a Global Business degree from Arizona State University and works full time in marketing. She spends her free time playing with her puppy and is currently in the process of self-publishing her newest novel, “Hearts Under Fire”. She blogs at The Writer’s Journal and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and IMDB.