I sat around a table with three steampunked Disney princesses, a Zelda princess and Kylo Ren (complete with lightsaber), watching a room of geeky introverts turn into extreme extroverts. In the buffet line, Capt. Jack Sparrow mingled with Molly Weasley, River Song, Agent Carter and an Amish zombie.
This is the creative craziness that is Realm Makers.
What is it, anyway?
I first came to Realm Makers, a Christian conference for speculative fiction writers, in Philadelphia, Penn., two years ago. It’s a smorgasbord of the creative and crazy, embracing nerddom with unashamed exuberance (there might have been a Kylo Ren and Rey lightsaber battle with pens).
Underneath all the geekery and fun, however, is an environment dedicated to developing writers to tell stories with creativity, depth and spiritual insight in a form and medium that is extremely popular with today’s readers.
I had a bit different Realm Makers experience than most. First, because I drove over 3,000 miles there and back with four other women in a little Malibu (actually a fun experience, even if we did have in-car waterfalls when it rained). But primarily, because I attended in my role as managing editor for Crosshair Press.
What did you do?
This is the first year Crosshair Press has been accepting outside submissions, so it was a wonderful, exhausting and eye-opening experience to participate in over 20 pitch sessions from Realm Makers writers. I can say one thing for certain–they’re a creative bunch!
It was a tremendous privilege to hear writer after writer share about their story and their writing journey (if that’s you, thank you!). As an author who’s been on the other side of the table, it takes great courage to share something so close to your heart with a stranger.
I enjoyed some very refreshing sessions and conversations with industry leaders during my time at Realm Makers. T. Davis Bunn challenged me to intentionally create space in my schedule (and my home) for writing so the everyday tasks don’t crowd out what God designed me to do. T. Davis Bunn also shared the refreshing reminder that how others respond to our work is completely outside our control, so we must focus on fulfilling God’s calling on our lives regardless of “success” or “results.”
My Crosshair Press colleagues and I were also tremendously inspired and encouraged by Steve Laube‘s continuing sessions on the formation of the Christian writer.
The most enjoyable session, however, goes to Carla (think little Southern Tinkerbell in pink and lace) for her hardcore fight workshop, whipping our fight scenes into shape and keeping us rolling with laughter in the process!
What are you taking home?
Hands-down the most valuable aspect of my Realm Makers experience was the opportunity to connect (and re-connect) with others in my profession who are passionate about Christ and telling quality stories that point people to Him.
A big highlight was gleaning advice and sharing stories and laughter at the sponsorship dinner with so many talented and experienced people. I will definitely take the wisdom and encouragement from that time home to breathe life into my work.
God really challenged me through the speakers and my conversations to make space for Him, for creativity, for rest. I’ve been running crazy for as long as I can remember (when you’re running two businesses and moving countries it gets to you) and in the midst of the rush He really spoke to me about depth and creativity in my work coming from time spent in His word, in contemplation and silence.
It seems counter-intuitive, like rest and silence would be the opponent of productivity, but God enjoys doing life backward, so I’m going to give it a try!
Here’s to silence and space…space for Him…space for creativity…space to take a deep breath and see life again and be thankful.
And also space for fun. Because, why wouldn’t you want to dress up like a steampunked Mulan, complete with your own shoulder dragon?
P.P.S. If you’re a Realmie, this coming week I’m offering 15 percent off my eight-week fiction writing mentorship course and/or your editing package of choice. Because ya’ll are that awesome. Just mention it when you contact me to sign up!