First-time writers conference attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with editors and authors while at the conference. Somewhere I heard, “talk to as many people as you can.”

Following up on this advice, I wrote my name on the list for appointments to various faculty members. One day I ventured into the room where the appointments took place and noticed Cecil Murphey waiting for his next appointment. Cecil Murphey, a former pastor and missionary, has written over a hundred books, one which was made into a movie. But since I had been to one of his workshops, I knew he was a warm, down-to-earth person and felt more comfortable approaching him.

Of course, I had no idea what I was going to talk to him about, which is not the best idea, especially when speaking to editors. However, these people are not surprised by the “deer-in-the-headlights” looks and clueless questions we newbies asked. They’ve heard them all before,  probably even asked them at some point in their lives.

I timidly approached him and asked him if he had time to speak with me. He informed me that since his appointment was running late, he would be happy to talk with me in the meantime. So I sat down across from him and told him about my idea for a novel based on some historical research I’d done. At that time, I didn’t think I was ready to write a book. But after I told him  my idea, he asked me why I hadn’t started it. I was surprised, because I thought that he must realize I was just a beginner. I answered that I didn’t think I’d done enough research yet and needed to spend more time on that first.

I’ll never forget what happened next. He clasped my hands between his two, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Do you need permission to write the book? I give you permission. Start writing the book. You can spend years doing research and the book will never be written. Start  writing the book now.”

His words, his encouragement, and his candor empowered me. I had permission to write a book! That may sound silly to some of you, but as an affirmation-seeking person, I needed that push to get started.

Thank God there are people like Cecil Murphey who unselfishly take the time to encourage others.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21