Thursday, August 7, 2014

#136 He's Got a Dream

When I think about my ultimate life aspirations, the scene from the movie, "Tangled" immediately pops into my mind.  I am all of a sudden surrounded by ruffians and thugs singing about how they really don't want to be malicious and scary but would rather have professions as concert pianists, florists, and interior designers.

This past weekend I stayed in one of my top five favorite places: NYC! (Who am I kidding? It's really my number one, but I wanted to leave room for any other potential candidates that might like to try out for the position).  Back in May, Hubby pushed me to pursue my dream of writing for a living in a more committed way; translation: this would be an investment of our money and my time.  He forced me to register for the Writer's Digest Conference being held in NYC and to not just register for the conference, but also for the 'Pitch Slam'.  The Pitch Slam is an hour where writers are given the opportunity to pitch their book to agents and editors in hopes of obtaining business cards representing an invitation to contact that agent/editor with more information, and it also, as I'm sure you've guessed, is a further financial commitment.

At first, I tried to chicken out.  While of course spending the weekend in the city was appealing, I wasn't sure about this whole 'pitch slam' thing.  After all, was I really ready for that?

What you may not know, dear blog follower, is that I have been sitting on my completed manuscript for well over three months now.  I sent out a few feelers, but that was the extent of it.  Therefore, yes, I was really ready for it, I just lacked the confidence to pursue it.  

Though it was a fantastic opportunity, I think perhaps Hubby may have at one point or another slightly regretted forcing me to sign up for the Pitch Slam.  Because every free moment between the sessions I attended and my 1:30 pm Pitch Slam session on Saturday I forced him to listen again and again as I perfected my pitch.

My Pitch Slam Map.  I think I may have issues.
I came home with a five-pound Sunday edition of the NY Times, a signed copy of a self-published book written by a new friend I made, and streams of information written in my notebook and throbbing in my brain.  I also had four business cards.

The weekend was more than simply inspiring.  It was motivating, invigorating, and most importantly, eye-opening.  Several authors either were keynote speakers or spoke as part of various sessions I attended.  Hearing that they go through writer's block, have days where they feel like their writing is crap, and use things like laundry, grocery shopping, and research as excuses to procrastinate brought them down to earth, standing on the same level as me.

 Some of the best tips I scribbled down during the weekend, which I feel can also be applied to a lot of dreams outside of writing, are:

*Nothing is sacred
It's okay to delete your own work.  It doesn't have to be perfect, and more than likely won't be, the first time around.

*Do something!
When your story stalls you need to do something.  Romance writer, Cheryl St. John says, "Puke it out.  Clean it up later."  Your story isn't going to write itself.

*Don't sit around waiting for the muse
Despite what you may have heard about writers waiting for the muse to strike, almost every speaker at this conference spoke strongly against such an idea. 

My favorite speaker was Harlan Coben, a New York Times Bestselling Author of mystery novels.  He said many things that I loved, but I'll share two:
  • "Only bad writers think they're good.  We're all insecure".
Mind blowing.  For that to come from a bestselling author seems impossible.  I would think such a person would reach a point of pompous entitlement to the reader acceptance of anything they produce.  I'm glad to hear it isn't so.
  • "I don't like writing.  I like having written". 
This quote is fantastic because too often writers act as though the art of writing is what keeps them going.  And while that may be somewhat true, I can't imagine that being halfway through writing a novel is quite as satisfying as when it has been accepted by a publishing company and is going to print. 

Lastly, this quote wasn't said during the conference but is one whose sentiments were strongly felt in the overall tone of many of the speakers.  It is one of my favorites and is my mantra for whenever I get down about wanting to be a writer:

"Writers write.  If you want to be a writer, write".


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