No person I’ve ever known excels at everything, but I think successful people become very good at a few things they find most important. In that spirit, here’s my open letter to all of the presenters, organizers and attendees of this year’s conference. How many times did we hear that we were “drinking from a fire hose?”
The most significant SFWC moment for me was when Keith Ogorek asked a group of us to think about our goals – what are we trying to accomplish? Are we doing it for money, or to touch people? A published author has the privilege of affecting lives we might never contact in person. What do we want to do with that opportunity?
Thanks, Keith. You gave me the solution to the Rubik’s Cube of information this conference handed to me. It’s so important for me to capture the imagination of readers with my cherished message that it is, next to my family, what I live for. It is a piece of me that neither rejection letters, peer indifference nor mediocre sales numbers can ever crush. It is essential to who I am.
There is much for an author to master: From the craft of writing, to understanding how to put the Internet to work for us, to (for many of us) finding an agent that loves our work, to knowing whether, when and how to self-publish. These are just topic headings, the tip of the iceberg.
For me, a recovering perfectionist who chose in this past year (largely because of SFWC 2011) to assemble my own team of editors, printers, distributors and marketing assistance and publish my first novel, the dizzying rush of information brought lots of opportunities to second-guess myself.
That’s okay. Remember, I was given the key to the Rubik’s Cube: “What things can move me the furthest along to my goal?” I think that if we’re honest about where our writing careers need the most attention, today’s fire hose will lead to tomorrow’s breakthroughs.
I have two wishes for all of you. The first is this: That you will never let “no” put an end to your dream. You may hear that from some agents over the next few weeks. Don’t sweat it. Don’t let it distract you. And the second wish:
You all met people at the conference. Become friends and care about each other. Stay in touch and cheer each other on! The world needs all of us to succeed. And, we need one another. I am so glad I was one of the strangers from all over the country who piled into a taxi on the Friday night of the 2011 conference, became friends at Harvey Pawl’s Italian dinner, and met up again this year: A Chief Imagination Officer, an Alabama Belle, two great gals from a place that rhymes with Tampa – and me, a Pizza Guy who can’t stop writing.