I promised more information about the awesome writers conference I attended this past weekend. First, let me say that I have been to all six of the LDS Storymaker’s conferences, starting way back in the Little Brown Theater in 2004. There were 42 attendees that year, and it made me feel inspired and excited to write. Every year it has only gotten better and better. This year there were 260-ish attendees (you’d have to ask one of the Storymakers for the exact number, but I know that’s super close), and the quality has only improved every year.

During one of our meetings Friday where the whole group met together (forgive me, I can’t remember which time slot it was), Jeff S. Savage (aka J Scott Savage writer of the terrific YA fantasy adventure series, FarWorld) who was the conference chair this year had us take out the bandanas they had included in out bags with the other materials for the conference. Then he showed a short video on the projection screen (it may have been powerpoint, but it included music). It was all made of headlines about publishing companies going out of business, and others having to cut back. Then he inserted the below video. It’s only six minutes long. Take a look.

Edited to add that the video has apparently been pulled? Anyway, the scene is from a movie called Facing the Giants about a high school football team. One guy told the coach that they wouldn’t win their game that weekend, and the coach had him do a death crawl (walking on hands and feet across the field with another player on his back). They had been doing them in practice for 20 or 30 yards, and the coach asked the kid if he could do 50 yards. He didn’t think he could. The coach pulled out a bandana and wrapped it over the kid’s eyes and told him to do his best. All down the length of the football field he encouraged the player, telling him to keep working, don’t quit. The kid cried out that it hurt, that he couldn’t make it, that his muscles burned, but the coach told him not to stop, to keep pushing.

When he finally gave out, the coach removed the bandana and showed the kid he was in the opposite endzone, he had gone the full 100 yards. then he asked the kid to keep a positive attitude, to encourage the other players, because with his leadership, the team could do far more than they thought.

When the video ended, Jeff told us to hang the bandanas near where we write. On our desks, on the wall, wherever we were. When we get discouraged–because the day will come when things look bleak, when we would think we couldn’t do it anymore, when we would get rejections and it would hurt–to look at the bandana and remember the video. The truth is, if we keep going, keep fighting in an industry that guarantees rejections, difficulties, budget cuts, publishing dates being postponed (if not cancelled outright, which has happened to some authors), then eventually we will succeed even more than we thought possible.

Actually there were several speaker who mentioned this. Julie Wright spoke about how she was rejected from her publisher after putting out a couple of books–something that was a terrible experience for her–but because of that, she was picked up by a bigger publisher. Several of the Storymakers have had that happen.

She has now been accepted by a national agent who will be shopping around her latest manuscript–and knowing her, it’s terrific! She urged the people in her class not to listen to those who would tell you that it can’t be done, that it’s not worth the effort. You never know when one rejection or stumbling block night actually turn into the stepping stone you’ve been searching for. Also, never forget that your Heavenly Father wants you to succeed. He knows you can do it, that if you give it all you’ve got, you will get where you want to be. It’s not going to be instant–that’s not how the business works. But with enough effort, you can succeed.

I have lots of other great tidbits to share from the conference, but they’ll have to wait until later.