Get Over Yourself!

Hey, all. Suze here. Welcome.

Last night I attended a talk by a famous author at our local library. (I was horrified by the poor turnout, despite quite a bit of publicity, but that’s the subject of another post).

Now at the same time this talk was scheduled, a writers’ group was also meeting informally in another part of the library. And when I say “writers’ group,” I mean a group of people who get together once or twice a month and exchange pages and discuss each other’s work. The librarian in charge of the event approached the group to let them know that a New York Times bestselling author was speaking. Great opportunity, right? They could come in and ask questions and learn about the writing process and the publishing industry from someone who had achieved great success.

And not a one of them came.

I’m not kidding. They stayed huddled in their little group, apparently too wrapped up in themselves and their “art,” to meet someone who has achieved what I’ll bet each of them wants: publication.

Now I’m not knocking small writers’ groups. If I had not found the guts to walk into one a few years ago, I wouldn’t have met J Monkeys and Casey Wyatt and PJ Sharon, and I wouldn’t have a completed manuscript and a couple more in progress, and I wouldn’t be blogging to you from the Seven Scribes today. But there came a time when we realized we needed more than we could get from each other if we wanted to be published, and that’s when we rushed our local RWA chapter, even though we’re not all writing romance.

It ain’t all about the art. (Well, for some people maybe it is, but you’ve still got to get it published somehow) And it ain’t all about the genre, either. Good, sellable writing is, well, good sellable writing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s romance, mystery, YA, sci-fi, paranormal, or even (spoken in a hushed tone) literary. We’ve all got plenty to learn from each other. In fact, I’d argue that exposing ourselves to different genres and styles of writing makes whatever we’re working on fresher and stronger. As the teenaged Crown Prince of Hardydom is so fond of telling me, “Don’t judge.”

How about you? Any missed opportunities you want to admit to? Secret biases you want to come clean about (the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, LOL!)? If you don’t feel like confessing, tell us about a great speaker you’ve heard.

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18 thoughts on “Get Over Yourself!”

  1. It’s a crying’ shame and they missed out on a spectacular opportunity. I’d have given my left &%$# to be there if I’d had one. I’m surprised you didn’t approach said group and threaten…er…encourage them to attend. Sorry I missed it!

    As for confessions, one of my editors who is a literary professor has hopes that I will someday turn away from the seductress of genre fiction and write a “real” book. I might just take her up on that once I’m done goofing off with these silly YA novels I’m slaving over *g*.

      1. It’s all “real,” PJ. Don’t change your focus unless you want to. In my opinion, the only real difference between a literary novel and a genre (i.e., popular!) novel is that the literary novel doesn’t have a happy ending. And it doesn’t even have to be particularly satisfying.

  2. Confession: I have/had really severe social anxiety. Years ago I started going to writing conferences, but I couldn’t do it alone. I always had to have a friend come with me, because I just had that fear of…I don’t even know. I felt like the new kid on the bus, when there are no empty seats, and was completely petrified by it. Well, last spring I decided to get over it. I was tired of being crippled by this stuff (I’m serious, I couldn’t even go to the post office without having a panic attack!), and I literally FORCED myself to go outside my comfort zone. In April, I went to my first meeting (alone!) of my “local” chapter of RWA. I had met a couple of the members before in passing, but only really had held a conversation with like, one (because, hello, I always had dragged my friends along with me to conferences before! How was I to really meet new people?). But everyone was so nice, and talked to me, and it took all but like 5 minutes for me to relax a bit. That was the first step, and after that, I forced myself out way more, and now, I love meeting new people and being challenged by new situations! Still, though, I can’t put into words how hard that first step was for me. This year has been AMAZING for both me and my writing career, simply because I interacted with other writers. If I had done this five years ago, I probably would be well on my way to stardom (a girl can dream, can’t she?) by now.

    Now, I just need to get over my fear of driving (which is actually the fear of OTHER drivers, LOL)!

    1. I’m so happy that you’ve experienced so many positive changes in your life, Melanie, and that you found the courage you needed. It isn’t easy to put yourself out there and take risks, but the rewards are so worth it. Next step: driving! I have a feeling you will conquer that one soon, maybe just about the time you sell that romance…

  3. I gotta tell you, as someone who has wanted to be an author since I found out what authors do, I was shocked that none of those wannabe’s took the opportunity to find out how the successful folks do it. And, further, I KNOW that our town has many wannabe’s. I’ve met LOTS of them. I don’t understand folks who want to do something but don’t take advantage of opportunities to find out how. I guess many of those people are really dream-to-be’s rather than wannabes. When you stop dreaming and start doing, that’s when good things happen, in my not-so-humble opinion. I wannabe an author (well, now I am, but I wannabe a NYT Bestselling Author) and I can tell you I will take advantage of every opportunity to get there.

    1. Crazy, wasn’t it? And I’ve met some of those townie wannabes too. I know everybody’s got their own issues and choices, but there’s not really an excuse for not learning from others. Dream on AND want it, baby! It’ll happen.

  4. How short-sighted that group was. Almost three years ago, the Oklahoma State Library, where I worked at the time sponsored a discussion panel run by romance writers. These were women who had been published and were gracious enough to talk to a group of interested people. I begged my supervisor to let me go, which she did. I sat, mesmerized for two hours as the women spoke about their journey to publication. A month later i quit my job and started writing. I’m now multi published and the President-elect of that group of women (Oklahoma RWA), who were my springboard. Who knows what would have happened to any one of those ‘writers’ if they’d listened to someone who knew all about what they thought they wanted.

    1. Congratulations on your new presidential gig, Callie! I’m just finishing up a stint as an officer in my local RWA group. I’m taking 2013 off to focus on my writing. We’ve said here before at the Scribes how joining our chapter literally changed our writing lives, both professionally and personally. The energy, drive, and forward momentum we’re experiencing is nothing short of astonishing. I just wish that short-sighted group at the library could get just a tiny taste of opening themselves up to resources that are available.

  5. A New York Times Bestselling Fantasy Author once offered to look over my manuscript and give me pointers. That was four years ago. The thought that he might think I’d wasted his time still gives me fear-sweats.

      1. He didn’t because I was too much of a coward to ever send it off to him. I’m afraid I missed that chance — it’d be pretty weird to say, “Hey, I’m that guy you offered a manuscript review to four years ago. I know it’s a bit late, but can I have your opinion now?”

        Of course, maybe this is just me again being a coward. I’m pretty dang proud of my -next- manuscript though, so maybe once it’s through editing, I’ll try again.

  6. I had the opportunity to hear John Irving speak at SLU. At the time, I wasn’t reading much and writing very little (the latter remains true). I only went because Evan had just written a paper on one of his books and really liked it. It was a great talk and he is now probably my favorite author. I was surprised that in a town with 4 colleges within 10 miles, there were empty seats!

  7. Horrified is right. I can see it happening though. People do get stuck. Thanks to my desperate need to learn about writing, I wouldn’t be in CTRWA if I had not gone to the Fairfield Library and met our very own Kristan H and Toni A. Thanks for a wonderful Post Suze.

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