“See you in
!” The subject line of an email snagged my attention. My chest clenched and I stopped breathing for a moment. Nashville
My eyes bounced off the words, too afraid to believe them. I must have read wrong. It drew my eyes again. I couldn’t help myself.
Really? Oh. My. Goodness! Oh, God! Really? Thank you!
Sitting on my couch, my heart and head fluttered then started doing the Snoopy dance. Thrill after thrill shot through me.
I had wanted so badly to attend ACFW in
this year. I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to attend a writer’s conference at all, but God had something else in mind… something so unexpected… something so far beyond my wildest expectations… I didn’t understand what God was doing in sending me to a Ted Dekker weekend writer’s symposium. After all, I’m a romance reader/writer. I had never even read a Ted Dekker book before applying for the scholarship. Yet I felt in the depths of my soul that this would be an experience I would never regret and never forget. St. Louis
|"Do or do not. There is no try."|
~Yoda by Kevin Kaiser
In my excitement, I promised everyone who was interested a full report upon return. But I found myself so overwhelmed that I couldn’t put the words down. I didn’t know why I was struggling so much. I just couldn’t do it.
It struck me this morning that it’s all about vulnerability. Ted, Tosca, Robert, Eric, and Steven taught us how to be vulnerable with each other in a way I’ve never seen before. Though it freed us in many ways, I found myself still wanting to keep the door shut to non-conferees.
They won’t understand. They can’t understand. Not like the friends I made at the conference... the ones experiencing this with me...
Realizing this, I decided it was time to put fingers to computer keys and spill it… to let you get a glimpse into the soul of this writer. So here goes…
I cannot call The Ragged Edge a conference or a symposium. No. I cringe every time the words come out of my mouth or I force myself to type them. Because that’s not what it is. The Ragged Edge is an experience! An experience I and the other 100 or so attendees will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
The Ragged Edge is aptly named. Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, Robert Liparulo, Eric Wilson, and Steven James opened their hearts to us. They bled for us. They gave us a glimpse into their writing lives, into their personal lives, into their very hearts and souls to show us what makes them and us as writers tic. In fact, some things are so personal I could never share them with you. It’s simply not my stuff to share. That’s how raw this experience is.
Yes, I said “is” not “was.” Because this experience didn’t end with the end of the weekend. It was only the beginning for all of us who attended.
Ted says we are blue monkeys in a brown monkey world. Not only are we drastically different from the rest of the world, but we bring color to the world. We are the leaders, the forerunners, the inspiration in the midst of a dull, brown world. Writing is an art! An art that shapes, molds, and redefines society in a way nothing else can.
Ted and company also encouraged us to write our hearts out. As writers, our stories are already beautiful. So write them. Sure, we may have to dress them up, reword, rephrase, revise in order to make our stories understood and better enjoyed, but they are already beautiful. God made us who we are. He gave us our own unique experiences in life and our own stories to tell and they are, therefore, beautiful – because they are gifts from him.
The simple act of sharing this with you brings a fresh wave of tears. These words were repeated over and over throughout the two days we assembled. It wasn’t until the closing remarks by Ted that the full force of his words hit me. I told Ted afterward with tears streaming down my face, “Thank you for saying that! And thank you for saying it every time you said it, because it took hearing it that many times for me to really get it.” I had asked him earlier in the conference about how to let my guard down, to feel the pain as I write an emotionally charged scene. So, when I came to him at the end with my words of gratitude, he responded this way: “Just remember what I said. Push through it. Dive in, dig deep and just write your heart out. Let yourself feel it. You can do it. Just keep pushing through.”
One of their favorite sayings is, “Bleed on the page.” This is exactly what Ted was encouraging me to do. He told us in his opening charge, “Readers don’t want your story, they want your heart. They don’t want your words, they want your blood. So, bleed on the page. You have to scream for them to hear you whisper. So dig in, dive deep and scream on the page.”
Here comes another onslaught of tears. I knew this was going to be hard. Don’t get me wrong. This was not a meeting filled with hype to get us emotionally charged. No! In fact, any “normal” person in attendance would have left the place depressed, suicidal, or shaking their heads at all the quacks in the room. They didn’t pump us up with words of fluff -n-stuff. No. They stripped us down to the depths of our souls, exposed our fears, showed us who we are, and then charged us to be that person – the one God made us to be… to not give up… to fight any resistance… to go forth with boldness, knowing that this writing business is lonely, real, vital, blessed, and beautiful.
There were so many things covered over the course of those two days. I could probably fill a book with them. But let me just say that I came home from the Ragged Edge a bolder, stronger person. I came home ready to be the writer I’ve spent years trying to convince myself I am. I came home with a heart filled with a greater love for my family. I came home understanding myself and accepting myself in a way I never had and this in turn changed my outlook on everything in my life.
One Ragged Edge attendee was told that she has a new glow about her. That’s how it is for all of us. We were strengthened in our inner beings. Sound familiar? I now understand what that scripture verse means, because I’m experiencing it.
Even though my heart is screaming at this moment, even though I’m working to put that scream on the page, I know that you only hear me whisper. Some experiences cannot be duplicated in words. They are too intangible… too inexpressible… too sacred. But I do hope you’ve caught a glimpse into what it means to live on the ragged edge where writers tread. And the next time my eyes glaze over during a conversation or I ask for the fifth time in fifteen minutes to repeat what you just said, just know that it’s the writer in me struggling to balance living in two worlds at once. It’s not you. It’s me - living on the edge… The Ragged Edge.
|Cracker Barrel Gang|
Go, Blue Monkeys!
|Ted Dekker and Linnette R Mullin|
Learning to bleed!
|Linnette R Mullin And Tosca Lee Finding that power by pushing through!|
|Linnette R Mullin and Robert Liparulo "Haven't slapped anyone yet, Bob?"|
|Steven James and Linnette R Mullin Giving the reader what they want!|
|Kevin Kaiser and Linnette R Mullin "Thanks for the scholarship. It changed my life."|
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