How the Scary Guy changed my life

by Kari on February 27, 2013

writing

“You should go to this.” My husband pulled a flyer out of his bag and slid it across the counter to me.

“Faith & Culture Writer’s Conference? No way.” He tilted his head, gave me a stop-being-ridiculous look, and waited.

“#1, I’m not a writer. I’m a wannabe. I’m a blogger with a pathetically small following and I say I’m going to write a book but I probably never will. #2, All the people there will be real writers. Authors and stuff. No way I’m going.”

He wasn’t listening.

“They have appointments with literary agents. You can share your book idea and get feedback. It’s only $55. I’m signing you up.”

Several weeks later I finally caved.

As I filled out the registration form, I scrolled through the photos of literary agents. Hmm … which one to pick? Oh man, not Bill Jensen. Too scary. Jenni Burke! She looks nice, and she’s smiling in her picture. I’ll pick her. She’ll let me down easy and won’t laugh at me and make me cry. 

Jenni Burke. *Click*

Done.

The week of the conference, Western Seminary called. “We’re so sorry. Your registration had an error and had to be resubmitted. Because of that the agent appointments have filled up. The only one left is with Bill Jensen.”

Panic. Scary Guy!

I prepared for the conference as most lame people do when afraid — I pretended it wasn’t happening. Finally, at 10pm the night before the conference, I figured I better have something to give to Scary Guy. So I Googled “How to write a book proposal” and quickly found myself more overwhelmed than ever. It was a little late to begin drafting up the 50-page proposal that Rachel Gardner said was necessary. I had nothing but a blog and a dream. And Scary Guy.

I arrived alone and didn’t know a soul. Holding something in my hand would provide security, so I headed for the coffee. A bright, cheery gal in her 50s started chit-chatting, and to my surprise she wasn’t published either. She was just an artist who loved Jesus, photography and poetry and had come to learn whatever she could. What a novel idea!

From the very first session I was hooked. Paul Metzger had me mesmerized as he shared Jeremiah 20:9 and spoke of a message shut up in our bones, how we should only write if we must write, if we had a message that we could not hold in. That was it! That was exactly how I felt. The more he spoke the more I realized this simple but profound truth: I am a writer. If God has called me to write, I am a writer.

An ISBN in my name does not make me a writer.

Writing makes me a writer.

Cornelia’s workshop had me feverishly scribbling notes and again, encouraged. Where Dr. Metzger had inspired my soul, Cornelia gave me practical tools. I kept texting my husband, “This is amazing. Thank you so much for making me attend!”

But I still had to face Scary Guy. When the time for my appointment came, I waited at the door and read his bio. Oh for crying out loud. He’d been in the literary industry longer than I’d been alive. He represented big name authors. I texted a friend: “Just pray he doesn’t stuff me in the garbage can.”

“Next, Kari Patterson.”

I sat down opposite Bill Jensen, and blurted out, “I don’t know what I’m doing! I’ve never done this before.” To my surprise, he smiled.

“That’s ok … just tell me your idea.”

And I did. And to my amazement, he didn’t stuff me in the garbage can. He didn’t laugh. He didn’t mock. He actually liked it. A lot. He liked the title and the message and he affirmed what I was already doing and gave me clear, practical steps of what to do next. He was thoughtful and listened. He was kind.

I went home and wrote the 50-page book proposal the following week.

A few months later I signed with a literary agent–the same agency which represents Paul Metzger, another Writers Conference connection–and although our publisher is still pending, the book has been written and we’re close. Very close.

But none of this would be if it weren’t for the flyer on the counter, the $55, and the Scary Guy appointment.

Oh, and the lady who chit-chatted with me over coffee?

She lives with us now. 

In so many ways, the Faith & Culture Writers Conference was a godsend. There will always be a thousand reason to not. Not go. Not write. Not try. The conference may not be life-changing for you. But it might.

Give it a shot.

~

Live near Portland and love to write? Consider attending the Faith & Culture Writers Conference April 5th & 6th! More info here. And WHATEVER you love to do, whatever gifts, passions, talents God has given you, are there steps He’s leading you to take? What “Scary Guy” do you need to face in order to move courageously forward by faith? Give it a shot! Thanks for reading.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Thila February 27, 2013 at 7:26 am

When your book is published, I hope to be one of the 1st in line for a signed copy.

Reply

Kari February 27, 2013 at 10:16 am

You dear thing! Bless you, Thila. (Are you coming to the FCC women’s retreat? Oh I hope so!)

Reply

Chelsea February 27, 2013 at 7:35 am

These words stir something in me, something that scares me to death. So thank you for writing words of honesty and encouragement. Now, to take steps out of my comfort zone…

Reply

Kari February 27, 2013 at 10:17 am

Mm….YAY! I know that stirring, Chelsea. That is exciting and scary. Praying for you right now that God will show you what He’s doing. Love, Kari

Reply

Brita Arcuri February 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

I love this! Stepping out in faith is always so scary, and I hate feeling vulnerable, and I fear failure, which makes it EVEN MORE HORRIBLY SCARY! But every time we do, something awesome happens, right?! If not only that we become more brave, and less afraid to try again! Love you, and I am so proud of you!

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bethanyfegles February 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I LOVED this post, Kari! So inspiring and sweet! I love how God helps move us forward in unexpected ways! So excited for you!! xo

Reply

anna kintigh February 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Sometimes God moves His biggest when we’re unsure of our talents or feel like there is a lacking. So thankful for your writing talents; for your heart.

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Natalie February 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Haha! Kari, congratulations on being the FINAL person this week to push me to go to this conference! After subtle and not so subtle nudges, I’ll be there. Hope to see you!

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Kari March 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

Woohoo!! SO glad you are going. Let’s be sure to meet up there, ok??

Reply

Jennifer Wilde March 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

What a compelling post! I just registered before I could chicken out! I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a long time, and look forward to actually meeting you at the conference.

Reply

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