Friday, March 30, 2018

Mount Hermon and the Fear of Missing Out

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Whenever I have the opportunity to attend a conference or a retreat, I always do it with a little prayer that goes something like this:

"God, when I leave this place, let me take away just ONE THING, one golden something that will move me or change me or guide me as I push forward on my writing journey."

Because there's always so much, you know? So much instruction. So many good teachers. So much advice. And it's far too easy to walk away and forget everything good that happened because you just couldn't absorb it all.

On Tuesday I returned home from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, one of the highest acclaimed writing conferences in the country, and I can honestly say, I've taken away more than just ONE THING. Maybe my brain is growing--I don't know--but there are several happenings stirring in my gut and I'm not ready to pour all of them out just yet. They're still working their magic and I'd like to keep them locked inside a bit longer.


But because I think it will matter to you, because I want you to be a part of my journey, and because I don't want you TO EVER be devoured by that great monster Fear of Missing Out, I want to tell you a story.

Back in 2010, I was supposed to go to Mount Hermon. I was new to the whole writing a book thing and my writing group had convinced me that I would meet the best agents and the best editors at Mount Hermon. That THIS was my chance. 

And so I prepared. And I planned. And it was going to be glorious--the first time I would pitch a completed novel to an agent.

Alas.

My daughter was a teeny tiny insomniac and I couldn't imagine leaving her. I had a four year old to look after as well and my husband's work schedule wasn't nearly as flexible as we would have liked. The longer my daughter struggled, the harder it became to arrange childcare, and suddenly it seemed like going away was the wrong decision.

But . . .

THIS was it. THIS was my plan. And I'd been convinced that if I didn't make sacrifices--if I didn't invest in my craft--that I would never get published. Everything inside my heart ached when I asked my writing group what I should do.

I'll never forget when our fearless leader, Beth, looked at me and said, "Don't go, Shannon. It really is okay. The conference will be there when you're ready."

I wept. I did. I didn't want to miss out, but her words were freedom. A gift I'm grateful for to this day.

And she was right. The conference didn't disappear. Eight years later it was still standing and I was ready.

This year I finally made it to Mount Hermon. And when I was invited, I was invited to be on faculty as an instructor and an author who'd gotten published after all. Three times, actually. Missing the conference didn't mean missing out on my chance. It just meant that God had other plans. And when my chance came, it looked different than I'd expected.

And so I want to say to you, if you're in a place where a conference or a big financial investment in your craft just isn't possible, it really is okay. You're not missing your chance. Opportunity will be there when you're ready.

The conference WAS glorious. It was, you guys. The location was spectacular, in the heart of a redwood forest, all misty and green. The faculty was inspiring and the classes Jill and I taught went better than we could have hoped.


As I continue to process, I'm putting together my thoughts in a newsletter that will go out next week sometime along with a fun giveaway. If you're not on my personal newsletter list, you can sign up here

Have you ever worried that you're missing your chance?
That if you could just do this or afford that, you would have a leg up?
You're not alone and I'd love to encourage you.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this, Shan! This really spoke to my heart this morning, because I have been dying a teeny bit over the conferences I've been missing out on. (MT. Hermon, SoCal, etc.) This is a great reminder for me to sit back, relax, and trust that God will bring me there at the right time. Thank you, thank you!!!!

    (And PS--I'm so glad you finally got to go and that you had such a great time!!!)

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    1. You're welcome, friend. We all struggle with this at some point. It's real. And you're so right: rest. Our timing is rarely His.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed to hear this.

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  3. I so relate to this, Shan. And I feel like FOMO only gets harder as you get more plugged in on social media. You see all the pictures of your writer friends having The Best Time Ever at conferences, and it's like, "I have to be at all the things!"

    I'm so pleased that you had a wise woman in your life to tell you "Not now" and that you were wise enough to recognize that it wasn't best for you.

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    1. Me too! She made all sorts of things possible for me. One kind, honest reply from her and things became clear. I hope I can do that for others from time to time.

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  4. This is so good! I waited at home a few years because circumstances and finances just didn't work out, but I finally had the chance to attend Realm Makers last year. It was one of the best times of my life. And I'm planning to go again this year!

    Echoing Ms. Morrill, I'm really glad you had someone in your life to give you the freedom to wait for a better time! How cool that your first trip to Mount Hermon was as a faculty member!

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    1. It was very cool, Tracey. I understand entirely about RM. It would be an awesome place to be and worth the wait, I think. One of these days!

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  5. Wow, this is actually good.. sometimes it's hard to realize that I don't have to have everything perfect now. I am young.... time isn't going to take away my chances of getting published ;D

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  6. I've struggled with anxiety for a few years now and, for a while, I let anxiety make me miss out on a lot of things--writing opportunities and otherwise. Then I realized that wasn't healthy, so I went in the opposite direction and made myself do things even when they scared me.

    For the most part, that's been really beneficial for helping me move beyond anxiety, but it also means that if I back out of something, even for a legitimate reason, I get really down on myself. I'm so used to my excuses being "all in my head" that it's difficult to accept legitimate roadblocks; I feel like I have to do everything.

    Thank you for sharing your advice. In writing and other areas of life, it means a lot to remember that "it really is okay" to say "no" or "later" sometimes.

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    1. Oh yes, friend. I understand and it really is okay. We worry about what others think and about the lies our brain tells us. But it's good to acknowledge that we can't possibly do and be everywhere.

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