Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers

I wrote a letter to my younger self as part of Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo's blogfest called
How I Found The Write Path
.


  This letter is supposed to come from writers who now know what they're doing. Hmm. Some of this is write on (har) and I actually do have some experience and decent advice to give. But I have a long way to go on my path. I'm headed to a writer's conference this week (the same one I talk about in the letter, actually) and I realize networking is something I continue to struggle with. Let's see how this week goes. Here's to me not crying. Cheers! 



Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers


Dear writing-is-the-only-thing-I’ve-ever-wanted-to-do Sarah,

Yes, yes, you’ve been writing stories since you could hold a pencil. Some are still in your scrapbook. Whatever. You have a lot to learn, love. I’ll concede that you’re young and naïve but that’s all you’re getting from me. Except advice. Which is this: get off yer ass.
Your “if I write it, they will come” attitude is helping you go nowhere. Sort of quickly. But wait! There’s more! If you act now, you will be a published writer. You won’t be paid mass amounts of money, but your writing will be out there, in the world, being read, by real people. Cool, huh?
When you’re about to leave your precious thirties, the decade you love so much, you make a decision that will lead to much crying and stress. Do it anyway and thank me later. That decision is horrifying to you and requires that you put yourself out there. Yourself and your writing. Don’t whine at me that you’ve sent amazing stories out sporadically only to have them rejected. Twenty submissions? Wow. That’s a crapload. Over thirty years? Not so much. Don’t argue with me that you’re trying—you’re not.
Being a writer is not a romantic skip through the daisies in a flowing gauzy gown. It’s a nasty trudge through the mud in pajamas. Uphill. In the rain. With wolves chasing you.
Okay, sweets, here’s the deal. Writing is a business. You have to do ghastly things like meet with people, join social media, go to conferences, and talk to agents. I’m sorry, I really am, but you have to…network. Are you okay? I’ll give you a minute.
At your very first conference, you will cry. In front of people. It’s pretty funny. Now, I mean. It’s funny now. I’m laughing with you not at you? Oh, never mind. And when an editor does not ask “Are you on Twitter?” but “What’s your Twitter handle?” you will get a reality slap because you are not on Twitter. You will then join Twitter. And you will cry. But this time it’s at home so no one will see you. Hugs.
The writing life is not about hanging in your yoga pants typing at your laptop with a cuppa. It’s real, dirty work. But you love writing, you need it, and that will keep you going—submitting, networking, and promoting. Those aren’t easy tasks for an introvert like you, but you can do it.
You know how to write. You’ve been writing for many years. You taught writing for many years. Pick your confidence up out of the dirt, dust it off, and put it back where it belongs. Ignore negativity. Also, please continue to ignore the rules of grammar and “good writing”. Throwing those rules out the proverbial window is crucial to keeping your voice.
 So there it is, love. Be your own bad self. Own your shit. Don’t give up. Use your voice. Be authentic. And, for the love of toads and crickets, ditch the doubts!

Onward,
Older, wiser, not-growing-old-as-gracefully-as-you-said-you-would Sarah

P.S. Please do try to develop a touch of that thing called patience. Look it up. Your editors might not get back to you for weeks. Some litmags, newspapers, and print magazines will take months. Some won’t respond at all. It's frustrating. Feel free to punch a pillow and throw some swear words around. It's not a temper tantrum, it's "venting". Totally mature. Just don’t yank your hair out—you’re getting older and you need it. The grey ones are fine. Get those ones.