AFCon: My Favorite Writing Conference in Photos

AFCon: My Favorite Writing Conference in Photos

This past weekend, I got to travel to my favorite writing conference: the semiannual Ancient Faith Conference for Writers and Podcasters. I’ve been going to this conference since its inception in 2016 and this year spoke on strategies to spice up your podcast.

The conference was held on the beautiful grounds of Antiochian Village, an Eastern Orthodox retreat center near Ligonier, PA. Every time I go to Antiochian Village, I’m refreshed not only by the raw beauty of the nature, but the intentional care taken to cultivate creation into a reflective, quiet space for guests.

At the 2017 AFCon, I was so inspired by this meditation trail that I created this podcast episode about it.
This was my first time attending AFCon since my book was published last year. I have to admit it’s a little thrilling to see your book out there in the wild!
But even more thrilling is the sense of community I’ve been blessed with throughout the process of writing. This picture features all of the other Ancient Faith authors who were able to attend AFCon this year.
One of the highlights of the conference for me was a talk given by Fr. Stephen Freeman, a popular blogger and author in the Orthodox community, on the topic of shame. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed (and cried) so hard listening to a talk before! Afterward, I got a chance to catch up with Fr. Stephen and picked his brain on something I’ve really struggled with since getting published: the ways writing has opened the door to a whole new level of shame in my life. It helped me to realize that a writer I’ve long respected and looked up to wrestles with the same feelings and experiences: intense shame storms after speaking engagements, second thoughts about pretty much anything real or vulnerable we’ve written, etc. “I don’t think the shame ever fully goes away,” he told me. He no longer tries to resist or fight against it. “In those moments, I try to pray: ‘O God, comfort me.'”
But the biggest highlight of all was getting to attend the conference for the first time as a co-contributor with my husband, Basil. We used AFCon to begin announcing the start of our upcoming podcast, Help My Unbelief, which is expected to launch in late June or early July. Developing content together is a learning process, but getting to roam the conference together–taking notes, gathering ideas for our project, and snagging some recordings–was an experience we both cherished.

5 Responses

  1. Nicole,
    Thank you for your own vulnerability in sharing. I enjoyed our conversation and the communion of the struggle.

  2. Cindy Banjoff says:

    I love that you used photos to express highlights of your experience. I find myself going back to the many moments I capture in photo to process through thoughts, ideas and understandings. It’s been such a pleasure meeting you this past lent, reading your book, and now attending the same conference, not to mention getting lost in the woods with you! All the best in each of your days.
    Cindy

    • Nicole Roccas says:

      I agree–photos and sparse reflections (for me at least) are a helpful way to remember and make sense of my experiences. I’m glad we could meet, too, and thankful for the ways God allows paths to cross and recross 🙂 Until we meet again!

  3. Carol says:

    Still pondering all my notes from the talks. It was amazing. You captured the essence so well in this post with all the great photos!

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