Kay and I were only able to attend one day of the ACFW meeting, but in addition to the Friday events we got to hear Liz Curtis Higgs on Thursday night, and it would have been worth walking the twenty-five miles from Duncanville to Addison just to hear her. I've ordered the CD's of her other talks and can hardly wait to get them.
My first reaction was that if 85 percent of the readers of Christian fiction are women, we have the right mix of the sexes on the writing end. There were other men there, but we were far outnumbered by the women. I think the disproportionate composition was best typified by the fact that, on Friday, the first floor Men's Room was converted to an auxiliary Ladies' Room. I stood in the hall for a few minutes at break time and managed to avert a few catastrophes as men began to walk in without reading the sign. Fortunately for us, other facilities were available one floor down.
The halls were crowded and the ballroom was packed during the time we were there. I suppose this is a good problem, indicating an increasing attendance--this year, over 400 I'm told. I hope that next year, arrangements can be made to make things a bit more comfortable, but since you have to book facilities long before you know how many people are coming, it may continue to be a problem. As my former chairman at the med school liked to say, "You can't have enough churches for Easter."
I've been fortunate enough to attend the conference at Glorieta, NM, once and the one at Mount Hermon twice. The classes offered at the ACFW were very similar, although the faculty had a different look. I attended Randy Ingermanson's Fiction 301 class, and Randy did his usual wonderful job, both imparting words of wisdom and keeping everyone loose with his slightly off-the-wall approach to life. Apparently other folks agreed, since the room was jam-packed. I believe that the serious fiction writer, whatever their level of development, could find something to help them elevate their craft.
For the writer of romance fiction, historical fiction, even suspense fiction, this is a great conference to meet others who wish to write in those genres from a Christian worldview. As a published non-fiction writer, I tried to laugh off the frequent jabs at those of us who don't write just fiction--I hope they were made in fun. But it was a time for bonding as much as for learning. I saw many, many groups huddled together, praying for one another before those sweaty-palm-time appointments with editors and agents. I witnessed friendships being formed, Christian sisters and brothers holding one another up during a stressful time. It certainly was a time when I could feel the pervasive presence of God.
Was it worth it? I think that the 400 people who voted with their pocketbooks to register, then endured the rigors of travel to get there, would agree with me that it's a unique meeting, and from what I saw, they were all getting their money's worth.