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:~: Monday, June 26, 2006 :~:

It's Been A Year . . .

The RWA National Convention is nearly upon us. One month away. One month to get my agent/editor pitch polished and ready, one month to lose those last couple pounds, one month to prepare myself for the maelstrom that is Nationals.

I will admit, conferences are overwhelming. Reno was my first one, and I was not only starstruck by famous names and faces, I was dumbfounded by all the people who obviously knew more than me in this small writing world. Even though I was surrounded by two-thousand women who all write the same type of stories I do and have the same goals I do, even though nearly twenty members of my local RWA chapter were in attendance, there were moments I felt totally alone at that conference. Moments when I thought, "Holy crap. What did I get myself into?"

Reno was a learning experience for me. I'd heard that before - that your first conference is all about getting your feet wet, learning how things work, getting used to the environment. That was true for me. I didn't hang out in the bar and strike up conversations. I didn't put myself out there and introduce myself to everyone I saw. I hung back, I watched, and I learned.

It's now one year later, and as I look ahead to Atlanta, I'm thinking about what I want to get out of this conference. As most of you who read my blog know, I really hedged about going to this one. It's clear across the country. It's more expensive than last year. I don't have an agent or editor yet, so I don't really "have" to be there. And yet, here I am, about to go again.

Last year during the PRO retreat, we were all given an index card and asked to write down our goals. Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm not a goal girl. I set goals in my head, but I rarely write them down. My aversion to goals has nothing to do with being afraid I won't meet a goal, or a fear of success. Simply put, I'm a hard worker. I have an intrinsic drive to succeed, and I don't need to have that typeset goal in front of me to know what I want. It's with me all the time, but as a writer, I recognize there are only so many things I can do to get where I want to go. At some point, it's out of my hands.

So during the PRO workshop, I stared, pen in hand, at that bright pink notecard and tried not to let it overwhelm me. What did I want to put down? Finishing a book isn't a problem for me. I've done it, I know how to do it, I'll do it again. Putting myself out there isn't easy, but I do it. I query and query and query. I get requests and I send out submissions. I get rejections and I sent out more queries. Those are things I'm doing on a daily basis in addition to refining my skill and honing my craft. They are the things I have control over. But were they worthy of putting on my notecard?

My gut screamed no. What do I really want?

In preparation for Nationals, I dug out that notecard and looked at it, almost one year later. The one-year goal I wrote down was: Sign with The Knight Agency. Pretty specific, and a goal I (obviously) haven't met. Although at the time of this blog post, I have material with The Knight Agency, so that's one small step in the right direction. As I look back on this year, I realize that my biggest goal - finding an agent who loves my writing - hasn't happened yet. I know there's still time before Nationals, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I've chosen a competitive genre to write in, I'm only targeting agents on my A-list, and I'm competing against published authors to get attention. I'm doing everything I can to get where I want to go, and when I look back on this year, internally I know I've done a lot:

  • I've written and polished two 110K word manuscripts
  • I've developed my voice
  • I've honed my craft and sharpened my writing
  • I've learned about the business
  • I've met a lot of writers online and have worked at "getting my name out there"
  • I've participated in blogs and loops and know this time when I get to Nationals, I'll know a lot more people than I did last year

Instead of feeling depressed because I didn't meet my one-year goal, instead of ranting about the fact I'm spending all this money to go to Nationals again, I'm looking at everything just as it is: a learning experience. One step in a skyscraper of stairs toward my ultimate goal of publication. Nationals, for me, is one more step.

What steps are you taking to get where you want to go?


Blogger Paty Jager said...

Putting myself and my work out there. I don't stay as active on loops as I should. I did, however, put myself in the election pool of the Hearts Through History board.

The first book of the Sprit trilogy is circulating, and I have one book coming out this fall at WRP and another one not too long behind it.

But until I have the contract with a big publishing house, I've yet to attain my goal. I'll keep, kicking, scratching, and writing until I get to the place I want to be.

Like you, I don't set goals. I don't need them, my work ethic and determination are all I need to keep me pushing forward and pumping out the words and books.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Karmela Johnson said...

Hey ladies, just discovered this blog! Pretty awesome! I'll be a regular visitor from now on.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Glad to see you here, Karmela!

11:24 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Another election, Paty? Wow. You're busy!

11:25 AM  
Blogger Lisa Pulliam said...

--Well hi Karmela, fancy seeing you here :-) (everyone check out her blog, it's great!)--

I really liked your post. As someone going to my first writing conference, I'm not sure what to expect. I'm not an extrovert by any means so I probably won't be introducing myself to agents or offering to buy them drinks. Although I probably should...

I've tried to detach as many unpub expectations and beliefs as I can. I think I'll get more out of the conference that way. I wonder what types of "getting my feet wet" things I'll learn. I feel like I've picked up lots by the ladies in RWA and through the dozen or so loops and boards I frequent.

I guess I hope to meet some of the great people I only know online and hopefully I grow the cajones to talk to one or two of the agents I'm really interested in. It's difficult forking out that much cash and not knowing how beneficial it will be. But there are only one of these a year, one chance to do it right until next summer.

At least we'll have fun, eh roomie? I wonder if room service delivers mixed drinks...

1:30 PM  

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