“Come with me and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination”
So begins the song from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. I’ve always liked that song and the thought that goes with it. Escaping the normal routine for a while for a place of wonderment.
I was privileged to experience some of that a few weeks ago when I traveled to the mountains of western North Carolina for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. Four days of meeting other writers, learning about the craft through classes and workshops, making personal and business contacts, and worshiping together with fellow believers.
Over 370 writers were in attendance so there was always someone new to meet and talk to. Some were experienced writers with many articles and/or books published to their credit while others were like me, total newcomers to the writing world. But it made no difference where you fit in the writing spectrum. Everyone was quick to ask what you were writing or how your meeting with an editor or publisher went or to offer some ideas or encouragement.
The faculty, those who taught the classes or represented magazines or publishing houses, were “real people” too. If you didn’t have a chance to meet one-on-one with a particular editor, agent, or author, you could simply sit at their assigned table during lunch or supper and get to know them better. They were happy to offer any tips or advice if asked but it was refreshing to get to know them for who they were, to realize they faced the same challenges you did, to know they had seen their share of rejection letters too. And of course the advice and instruction they offered in their sessions was top notch. Whether you needed the basics as a beginning writer or advice on how to polish that new novel, there was something for everyone.
To say that it was absolutely incredible doesn’t do it justice. I have not had that much fun and enjoyment in a long time. And the amazing thing is, I didn’t know a single person before I arrived. I’m such a shy person I’ll go around the world to avoid walking up to a stranger and introducing myself but I did it many times that week. Never once did I feel uneasy or intimidated by those I encountered. Just shows the power of His presence whenever His people are gathered in His name.
The dates for next year’s conference are May 3-8. I highly recommend it to anyone who has written, is beginning to write, or simply wants to learn more about writing. If nothing else, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the time “in a world of pure imagination.”