Today is IWSG day because it’s the first Wednesday of the month. IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group and was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Our purpose is to share and encourage. You can follow other IWSG members here or on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG. We also have a Facebook page.
Monday I blogged about my trek to Marshall, Texas, to attend the ETBU Conference. If you’re interested you can backtrack and read Part I but each post stands alone—as they say in the world of series writing.
When I registered for the conference, I signed up for an appointment with one of my favorite guys in the entire realm of Christian writing and publishing. Yes, you guessed it—Cecil Murphey. Cec is author of a whole slew of books but two you might recognize are Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story, and 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life.
I’d never met Cec but I’ve read his blog and I’m on a couple writing loops with him. I’ve emailed him with questions through the years, and he’s always been generous with answers. I think that’s unusual. There are other authors I’ve emailed with questions who say they don’t have time or that they’ll get back with me, and never do.
My appointment with Cec was at ten o’clock sharp on Saturday morning, and my session with Caleb Pirtle III (The Magic of Storytelling) ended at exactly ten 0’clock. One of my pet peeves is people coming and going during writing sessions; it’s disruptive. So what did I do? Well, uh, I skipped my appointment. Crazy, huh? It surprised me too, but you know, face to face Cec might not be as kind as online Cec. (Yes, that actually crossed my mind. Insecurity is an ugly thing!)
I felt so guilty. I visualized Cec sitting there waiting, looking at his watch, wondering why I didn’t show.
In my next session, all of a sudden I got a text message from Elizabeth Hoyer who handled the conference paperwork: “Jessica, Cecil Murphey is trying to get in touch with you.”
Whaaaat? Never in all my days have I had an appointment track me down. Not that I miss a lot of appointments—actually not any, but I’d bet good money all those agents and editors I’ve met with over the years wouldn’t have missed me, much less tracked me down. I texted Elizabeth back, apologized, and told her I’d be in Cec’s 2:45 session and not to worry about the appointment. In her next text she gave me his cell phone number. He wanted me to call him.
Call Cecil Murphey—THE Cecil Murphey—on the phone?
I didn’t call. I texted Elizabeth: “It’s not necessary to put himself out. Sorry for the trouble.”
Elizabeth responded: “No, it’s fine. He gave me his number for you, he has appointments before and after his class so you can set up another time to meet.”
I still didn’t call Cec, but I texted him and we set up an appointment for 2:30–EXACTLY when my session with Kristen Clark (How to Write and Publish Your Inspirational Short Story) was supposed to begin.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. Sometimes my elevator stops between floors. Here I was at a conference especially to meet Cecil Murphey, but I seemed to be running from him. Was it nerves? What was going on with me?
Hubby went to Kristen’s workshop and promised to take good notes and save me a seat. I had no idea how long my appointment with Cec would be–probably no longer than five or ten minutes. I trekked off to find him.
The moment our eyes met–haha–actually, the moment he read my name-tag, he apologized for the mix-up. Mix-up? You’ll be proud to know I took full responsibility and confessed to standing him up.
We walked outside, the sun peeked from behind the clouds. No, really, it did. It had rained all night and part of the morning. Sitting on a bench in the sun, we talked. And talked. And talked. For thirty minutes!
He told me I was the only one of his appointments that didn’t send him something to critique. I told him I just wanted to meet him, to thank him, to tell him how much he’d meant to me over the years. That he would take the time to answer questions in detail from someone he didn’t know … He’d been a mentor—and didn’t know it.
We talked about everything from writing to praying. He advised me on some things I had questions about and shared some of his writing plans. That thirty minutes was worth the price of the entire conference–doubled!
Have you ever read someone’s book, their blog and just known deep down in your gut that you have a connection with that person? That you share something? That’s the way I’ve always felt about Cecil Murphey. And after meeting him, I thank God he was exactly as I’ve always imagined.
On Friday, I’ll tell you about my last three sessions at the ETBU Conference.