dragons, commandments, goldfish: what I learned from karen ball

This past weekend, the Oklahoma City chapter of the ACFW hosted a mini-conference featuring author/editor/agent extraordinaire Karen Ball. With the years she’s poured into the industry, she had so much valuable insight to impart on writers of all stages and genres in attendance.

Okay, people. We’re talking about the same Karen Ball who discovered authors among the likes of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. So basically, Redeeming Love never would have been a thing if it weren’t for her. That might be a bit of a stretch, but clearly, the woman knows her stuff.

She talked about everything from “dragons” out to destroy fiction to the passion behind writing to a little story about a goldfish that’s apparently pretty well-known in the ACFW circles 🙂 If you have the chance to hear Karen Ball speak, RUN (to not from). She’s a compelling speaker, a gifted teacher, and even a talented singer, we learned.

There’s one thing she said that resonated with me the most, though. I could write a month’s worth of posts about the pages of notes I took with her industry and craft advice. But if you asked me what was most important, I wouldn’t even flinch to tell you this is it.

“What’s the most important commandment?” Karen asked us.

And like diligent Sunday school children, we recited, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Actually, we never could figure out which order they went in, but it worked.

“And what’s the second greatest command?”

“Love your neighbor.”


As yourself.”

It’s easy when you’re working hard in any profession to lose sight of taking care yourself–especially if you’re pulling off a precarious balancing act with other things. But if I took care of my neighbor the way that I took care of myself right now, it wouldn’t be pretty. I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I let someone skimp on sleep, neglect healthy living habits, and allow his/her life to fall out of balance under my care.

So why would I do that to myself?

I think a lot of us writers become absorbed in deadlines, writing, revising, building platform, critiquing, and especially researching that we forget to love ourselves and take care of ourselves. No matter what stage of life I’ve been in, from student to working 40+ hours a week to balancing a full-time job with taking care of a baby that doesn’t sleep and writing a novel, I’ve learned two things. 1) It’s all about balance. 2) Even a little bit of effort goes a LONG way.

It’s Oct. 22, and I have yet to post my writing goals for this month. (Though there are many.) So I’m going to post a different kind of list. My personal list–my manifesto of sorts–of decisions I can make that have proven to help me be my healthiest and happiest self. Achieving the balance in life that makes things run more smoothly.



prayer + running outside +  mindful eating + treating + {enough} sleeping + internet rationing + journaling + dressing immediately + pampering {this happens never} + planning + water drinking + being present + serving + singing + creating + maintaining my house = Happy Laurie

I am constantly adding to this list, constantly failing at keeping it, and would never expect to follow it perfectly. But if this is something I can strive for, if just even one of these habits will stick, then I think loving myself will help me love my neighbor.

Isn’t that sort of what this whole writing thing is all about?

What’s on your personal manifesto of self-care? If you’ve had the opportunity to meet Karen or hear her speak, what’s your favorite memory?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.