Oh yes, I definitely have one. This past weekend presented a new challenge for me. My speech, Coming out of the Dark, revolves around how a writer develops an edge to their writing. As a writer grows older and survives life’s heartaches and hardships, it creates the residue of so much conflict to write about. What events in a writer's life briefly touch or possess powerful magic to influence the stories they create? I talk about what it was in my life that gave me "the edge." It's interesting how you can pack 30 years of one's life in a 30-minute presentation. But, I must do it well because folks are riveted to their seats. It not something they hear talked about much ... the dangers of "religion." Especially here in the Bible belt.
But the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Saturday and Sunday I delivered this speech to two churches. A women's retreat on Saturday, the High Point First Presbyterian Church ladies, gathered at a beautiful lodge north of Greensboro, to spend the day together and reflect on the "JOY of the Lord." I could've talked to these beautiful women all day. Their love and graciousness touched my heart. We talked about how to be receptive and open to the hurting woman who may live or work next to you. It was a beautiful group conversation. I sold 30 books and made lots of new friends.
On Sunday, the men of the Friends Quaker Church in Archdale, cooked breakfast for their sweethearts for Valentine's Day. Precious. Pancakes, and all the fixin's. Over 70 gathered in their fellowship hall before Sunday school to eat, and then ... listen to me. The beauty is, they recorded it! On a quality CD! These folks literally wrapped their arms around Michael and I and insisted they become our home church. I had to smile. The response to my speech was once again, a touching one. Though quiet in nature, these folks heard what I had to say, and did a lot of head nodding. I loved it! Again, I sold another 30 books ... not bad for two days work. But the reward is, there's a two-fold thing going on here.
The word is getting out. About my work AND my message, that church shouldn't hurt. It's being heard. For some, it's the very first time they've heard anything remotely like it. At times, I'm not sure which is the more important. My message or my writing. And yet, I feel they're strongly intertwined. For others, it is a revelation. A confirmation of their suspicions. It's turned into a grass roots effort, that's growing. And I can't help but think this message is going to be huge at some point. So stay tuned, folks.
I feel as though I've taken a new direction, in some ways. Though I love attending writing conferences and classes, (and will continue to do so-as my schedule reflects) but, I'm now content just to stay connected to my few writer friends and the smaller writing groups I've enjoyed. I feel a "calling." To get this book done. To continue my career as a novelist and speaker. I am, for a fact, one of the few solely FICTION writers, with a speech about something other than writing. I feel the combination of the message and my stories is a new approach on the speaker circuit. And it's more than a message really, it's tunneling through one's obstacles - a voice of inspiration and ... oh, God ... here it comes ... that cliche' of a word ... hope.
But the challenge for me these past few days was presenting this message, that church shouldn't hurt ... to the church. And just as I suspected, the community churches are ready for this. They want to hear it. They've watched the "televangelism movement" for a long time and they're more than ready for somebody to step up to the plate. Somebody with a story. Somebody with the guts to say ... "hey, there's more to it than what you see on the screen."
My efforts and concentration for the past months have been on final edits of Televenge, to polish it and get it ready for submission. Michael and I have spared no expense, in time or dollars, to do that. It's an investment. It's what I do. It's, (here I go again) my passion. If Televenge doesn't turn out to be a timeless novel for the ages, or a bestseller, or even an HBO special, (grin) it remains a big part of my life and work. Not all writers are the same. We all have different agendas, different goals, and different ideals.
Thank God for that. Thank God for giving each one of us a different "edge."
Blessings to you and yours.