by Denise Loock

Is it worth the money? That was the first question I asked myself when I read the announcement about PENCON 2017 in Atlanta. I’d attended many writers’ conferences, justifying the expense as an opportunity to interact with potential clients while I honed my writing skills. But could I justify the expense of a conference for editors? 

Full disclosure: Cecil Murphey was the keynote speaker in Atlanta, and I knew he wouldn’t disappoint. I also live in North Carolina, close enough to drive to the conference. Those two factors motivated me to register.

The conference far exceeded my expectations. I left with new skills, renewed motivation and purpose, and enduring friendships. I didn’t think twice about paying airfare to Grand Rapids and the conference fees in 2018. I was hooked. Why?

  • PENCON is the only annual conference for Christian editors. We need the support, insight, and inspiration colleagues provide. Sure, a lot of us are introverts and prefer the solitude of our home offices. But God didn’t create any of us to be hermits. Community is his idea, and we need the interaction.
  • PENCON faculty help me improve my skills. I’m a better editor—catch more mistakes, craft better sentences—because of the knowledge and tips I gain in the workshops. 
  • PENCON is fun. Other editors laugh at the same misspellings and typos you do. Eating together, sharing stories, and learning from each other in workshop discussions re-energize us. The camaraderie reminds us that we aren’t strange creatures from another universe. Punctuation matters; grammar matters. 
  • PENCON is affirmation of God’s approval. He demands excellence and he cares about details. (Review his instructions about the tabernacle in Exodus or the temple in 1 Kings.) Helping writers achieve excellence is a worthwhile endeavor that brings God pleasure.

You may be thinking that you can’t afford to attend PENCON 2020. Maybe so. Here are two suggestions. First, ask God to provide the funds if he wants you to attend PENCON 2020; tell him the specific amount you need. Second, ask friends and family members to give you cash as gifts throughout 2020 so you’ll be ready for PENCON 2021.

How much money would you invest in a continuing education course at a local college? Maybe three or four hundred dollars. Think of PENCON as a continuing education course with fringe benefits of fun and fellowship. Invest in your career but, more importantly, invest in yourself. You’re worth it.

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Denise Loock is an editor, author, and inspirational speaker. She is a general editor for LPCBooks, a division of Iron Stream Media. She also accepts freelance editing projects. She teaches two PEN Institute Courses and writes a grammar and usage column for Christian Communicator. She is the director of PENCON 2020.