Liberty University's eighth biannual Writers Conference opened Friday night with a reception in DeMoss Learning Center and a keynote address by Jerry Jenkins, co-author with Tim LaHaye of the “Left Behind” series.
With the goal of encouraging students and the community to hone in on their writing talents, the conference attracted a range of participants, from seasoned authors to young hopefuls, including Liberty students and professors.
“For those interested in writing their own books or articles, having people like Jerry Jenkins [available to] critique their work is something that many would-be authors never would get to do without this conference,” said Professor of Communications Robert Lyster.
Jenkins warmed Friday night's crowd with jokes and then moved into his message on writing with emotion saying, “Regardless of where you are, you’re going to need to be a feeling writer. You’re going to need to be in touch with your emotions.”
Jenkins said his motivation for writing was his desire to reach the lost. “There is nothing more thrilling for a writer than hearing from people personally that your writing has brought them to Christ.”
Jenkins spoke about Winston Churchill’s ability to write speeches that moved people and expressed his hope for writers to be moved by literature in the same way. Jenkins told how the words of Truman Capote allowed him to forget he was reading, becoming caught up in the content rather than the technique.
“I wasn’t reading,” said Jenkins. “I was there.”
Jenkins closed out the night with a story of his time with evangelist Billy Graham, telling of when Graham had broken his pelvis and needed an injection and the doctor told him to think of somewhere else he’d rather be to get his mind of the pain.
With tears in his eyes, Jenkins told the crowd, “Graham said to the doctor, ‘There is no other place I’d rather be than right here right now … because I am living in the center of God’s will and if this is where he wants me this is where I want to be.’” And with those closing words, Jenkins encouraged the crowd to be in the center of God’s will as writers and to write with emotion.
The conference continued on Saturday with a continental breakfast, door prizes throughout the day, workshops on subjects such as techniques of writing, how to be published and how to encourage students to write, and Jenkins’ “Thick-skinned Manuscript Critique” session. Notable authors Carole Gift Page and Bill Myers also conducted sessions. Other speakers included Liberty’s own Jim Zabloski, Don Alban, Janice DeLong, Beth Ackerman and Jamaica Conner. The conference came to a close Saturday night with book signings by Jenkins, Myers and Page.