The following is copied and freshened up from a previous blog post entitled Duc in Altum: On Going Out, Catching Nothing, and Going Back Out Anyway. Maybe you’re thinking about attending the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference in Chicago this summer, but you’re having a hard time justifying the time or the expense. If so, I hope my story below will encourage you and inspire you to go. If you make it, come find me and remind me of this post, and if you’re nice to me, I’ll buy you a pack of snack mix or something.
We all know the story, right? Luke, Chapter 5? That’s the one where Jesus finds Peter along the shore and tells Pete to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” I love Peter’s response at verse 5. It’s basically a complaint followed by, “Suuuuure, I’ll do what you ask. Watch what doesn’t happen!”
And then Pete gets to watch what does happen. So does the crowd.
I’ve been there. I had a novel out, but navigating through the preschool years and then into the school years with a set of twins and their (relatively minor but still consuming) special needs, and then a few health issues of my own, and then financial issues… well, let’s put it this way. The novel wasn’t doing well. Hardly any of my short pieces were finding homes at magazines. Writing sure wasn’t bringing in the extra money our family needed to survive. I had to take a series of desk jobs. I’ll never forget the day I told the twins, then three, that Mommy was going to work at a desk at a local fitness center.
“But Mommy,” the younger one said, “I thought you were a writer!”
I don’t remember my response, but I do remember being glad that I was driving at the time, because they weren’t able to see me cry.
Fast forward three years later. Second Shift of Kid came along, and just in time, God provided financially (foremost, He helped us pay off the minivan, which was a HUGE relief). I didn’t need to work outside the home anymore, which was good, because with an infant again and two starting kindergarten, I really couldn’t. I still had the itch to write but was doing precious little to scratch it: a NaNoWriMo here, a press release for a sister in St. Dominic there. But I was in the car a lot, toting my kids back and forth, so to make the most of that time I listened to a lot of Catholic radio.
This is where Jesus found me, along the shore, cleaning my net and calling it a day, thinking about dropping this whole fishing thing and picking up something normal like quilting or scrapbooking. (Now picture St. Peter at a Creative Memories party.)
That summer, I heard advertised the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, which was being held less than an hour from my house. I figured if my husband could take one day off to watch the kids so I could go, then that would be God’s way of saying He had something for me there. He could, and so I guessed He did, so I went to a training day for booksellers, not because I’m a bookseller but just to find out what the booksellers knew.
They knew that there was a Catholic Writers Guild.
Less than two months later, we scrambled to make it possible for me to attend the Catholic Writers Retreat in Lansing, MI. One stroke of the oar led to another, and to make a long story short, I met my publisher through CWG, which I would not have done had I not networked at the October 2012 retreat, which I would not have done had I not gone to the CMN show, which I would not have done had I not simply listened to Catholic radio.
Three years later, I’m now a CatholicMom.com & CWG blog contributor, I’ve seen my novel hit #1 in its category the first 24 hours after its release, and that novel has received the CWG Seal of Approval. Even my itty bitty first novel, a scifi retelling of Jane Eyre, has seen a steady little uptick in sales for the first time in years. More importantly, I’ve made Catholic writer friends. That may sound silly, but as someone with not many close friends to begin with, and whose dear acquaintances think that Catholicism is a bit on the crazy size… this is huge. It’s a lot easier to feel Jesus by my side when I write now that I can think back to times that two or three of us have gathered to write in His name. Forget the writing: it’s easier to see Him by my side every time I open my Facebook page or check my email or get a text from a far-flung friend.
So, have I helped you make up your mind? Are you ready to cast out into the deep? If nothing else, you’ll come up with a net of snack mix. What do you have to lose? Go get yourself registered. God willing, I’ll see you in Chicago in a couple of months.