I've been home from the ANWA conference nearly a week. If you recall from my last blog post, one week prior to the conference, I was running around screaming and waving my arms in the air. Okay. This is not unusual for me, but there was a sense of urgency the last time around.
Now I'm home, the deed is done, and the pitches complete. I cannot undo what has been done, and quite frankly, I don't want to. I'm happy.
Not because we got one full and one partial request for our non-fiction, or because they wanted the first fifty pages for my YA novel.
My happiness doesn't stem from my little sister and I getting first in our respective genres for the BOB (Beginning of Book contest), or from the new writerly friends I made, or even the dozens of pages of notes, ideas, and inspiration I gained while I was there.
I am happy because I took a huge, monumental, earth-shattering (for me) risk and put myself and my writing out there. Nearly every writer fears sharing their work; giving it to someone and risking rejection. It's almost as scary and walking up to the person you've secretly adored for years, looking the in them eye, and declaring your love to them.
Your heart stutters, stomach clenches, knees wobble, and a cold sweat forms all over your body as you scrutinize every nuance of their body language, mentally screaming for them to love you...er, your work. What if my writing isn't strong enough? What if I misspelled something? What if they don't like the storyline? What if there's a giant, gaping plot hole? What if...?
The what ifs can eat a person alive, bit by bit, piece by piece, until we're crippled with fear. Horrified by the self-perceived shortcomings of our work. We grip our pages tightly to our chest, afraid to show even a scrap of it to those around us. Heaven knows rejection runs rampant in the publishing world.
Writing is painful, at times tedious and, at least for me, the learning curve was much like climbing Mt. Everest. But so is losing weight and/or getting healthy, striving for the Celestial Kingdom, and any other truly worthwhile endeavors in our lives. To grow, we must be willing to endure a certain amount of discomfort or pain.
I've discovered 'no' from one person may be 'where have you been all my life?' from another. No two people's tastes are alike. And, much like the dating game, we need to be willing to kiss a whole lot of frogs to find our prince (or princess). But we still have to put ourselves out there and kiss 'em.
So, in a long, winding, convoluted way, I'm trying to say the main lesson I took away from the ANWA Writers Conference is to look fear in the eye and take the leap. The answer will ALWAYS be 'no' unless I ask. And to ask, I must put myself and my writing out there.
Last year the answer was, "not yet." Time will tell what the publishing world currently thinks of our work. But I have a story to tell, and by golly I'm gonna tell it!
I hope you will join me on this journey and put yourself out there. Somebody is waiting for your story, wishing it would be told. You don't want to disappoint them, do you?