The Secret Portal at ACFW—Lenora Worth
A lot of writers, editors, agents and industry people congregated at the Omni Hotel and Resort in downtown Nashville last week for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference. It was great to see so many friends and get such wonderful hugs, but our MC Brandilyn Collins warned us about the “normals” out there. We needed to remember they might not get some of our conversations.
Writers are used to “normals.” I call them civilians. They are the non-writers who can’t understand why we grill people we’ve just met with all sorts of pointed questions. Especially if one of those people has a profession that we find fascinating.
So we knew to behave and try not to discuss interesting plot twists in the elevator or in the bathroom. And we couldn’t get too giddy or scream too very loud if we got a nice contract on the next book.
I was fine with all of that. But Brandilyn also mentioned the strange elevators at the Omni. We had one wing that had floors One through Thirteen. My husband and I were on the thirteenth floor. Okay, I was also fine with that. But then it got weird. The other set of elevators went from One to Four and then skipped a few floors and went on up way too high for me. Brandilyn called it the Alternate Universe and asked for stories about it. What went on in this strange gap where the elevator didn’t stop? Was it a secret portal? An empty space? A place of horrors beyond imagination? I had a story but I was always too tired at night to sit down and write it.
But I know what that AU was all about. It’s the Author’s Universe. It’s the land where Alice goes down the rabbit hole and the Hobbit Frodo finds that ring. It’s where Romeo meets Juliet and Scarlett first sees Rhett Butler. It’s the place where happy endings collide with chilling suspense stories.
It’s the place of alliterations and allegories and action and adventure. It’s the place where irony meets reality and reality turns into a fantasy. This place is a place of lost dreams and broken faith, a place of hope and redemption and restoration and reformation. It’s a place where, as Ted Dekker suggested, we write to find ourselves. Or we write to lose ourselves. It’s the place where transformation meets meditation and where “methanoia” (a kind of rendering that Ted also mentioned) meets method and structure and plot and a transformation takes place right before our eyes. It’s the place where we do find ourselves in every word we write and we do lose ourselves in deep point-of-view and hard-to-write plots.
It’s the place where our imaginations go to find the truth, where our minds go to find the perfect plot and the perfect pitch. It’s a magical, enlightening, encouraging, and entertaining place. It’s a world where writers go to learn craft and tell their tales. It’s a well and it’s a mountain. It’s a train and it’s a plane. It’s a deep ocean and a sunny meadow.
It is the stuff of dreams.
Or at least, that’s how I see it. While we were there, learning and praying and meeting and greeting and seeing and being seen, our imaginations went straight to that Alternate Universe and made it our Authors’ Universe.
And I loved every minute of it. If you were there, what do you think about the AU? Did you fall down the rabbit hole or find that all-important ring? Or did you go all sci-fi and get beamed up? I hope that you found something great at ACFW. And I hope you came away with your imagination intact and your heart ready for all of the possibilities!
Here are a few more pictures from my adventures!
And look for what my imagination created, out in October: