I set out to write my first book a year and a half ago. I’ve never been a writer. Didn’t know much about the craft. I’d been a public speaker for many years. I knew about sharing ideas with a live audience. I soon realized that writing is a different animal. I’m on more than a learning curve. It’s a road atlas.
After months of writing in isolation I decided, in order to keep from jumping out of a window, I might need to get out among the living. I looked for writers groups. The first group I found was the Dallas Ft. Worth Writers Workshop. A thriving community of writers. The group is made up of traditionally published, self published, and people hoping to be published. I went the first time to observe. I joined the next week.
I was totally comfortable to start my writing career knowing I didn’t know what I was doing. My passion to get my story out was more than sufficient to drive me to work at it. People who knew me gave me positive feedback on what I was writing. But I was eager for input from people who didn’t know me.
The structure of the writers group includes reading your work aloud in small groups. There is a time limit. The group then critiques your writing. The first time I read my work they applauded. That didn’t happen the week before. It didn’t happen for anyone else that night. I received positive comments on the story I’m telling. And, constructive criticism on my writing.
I went home on cloud nine. I was so happy! I’m on my way. I told my wife about how I was accepted. I went on about how they clapped for me, thinking I’d hit a home run. When I went back the next week I learned that they clap for everyone the first time they read aloud. My bubble burst. I’m nothing special. Just a newbie. Oh, well! I will always have that week of ecstasy. Even if it wasn’t real.
I also joined the Writers Guild of Texas in Richardson. A smaller group with a similar mix of writing expertise. These groups have been so helpful in offering encouragement, instruction, and friendship. I am blessed to have people taking an interest in my writing. And in me as a person. I feel a deep sense of appreciation for finding wonderful people who care about more than themselves. Their commitment to developing others is refreshing.
I just attended my first writers conference sponsored by the DFW Writers Workshop. I served on the Marketing Committee of the conference. A volunteer team responsible for making the conference a success. I cannot give enough praise for the way the marketing committee pulled together. I think everyone believes the conference was a hit. The few hiccups we encountered didn’t deter the team from plowing through and making the conference work for all attendees. Having been involved in many conferences over the years I’m proud to have been a part of such a noteworthy endeavor. To all who worked so tirelessly – you have my admiration!
I knew I didn’t know how to be a writer. I was okay with that. I didn’t let that stop me from getting started. Once writers convinced me, probably not their intention, I didn’t know how to write I took on some issues. I didn’t let that stop me either. I have a long way to go before I would consider myself a writer in the purest sense. I have a message that I’m driven to share. My first book just came back from the first round of edits. I have some work to do. But it is essentially finished. It will still be a few months before the book becomes a reality. It’s been a longer process for me than I could have ever imagined. I’ve always intended to self publish my first book and I will see it through.
I decided to pitch an idea I have, for a second book, to an agent during the writers conference. I wanted the experience more than anything else. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never done it before. Professional Agents come to conferences looking for potential books to publish. Competition is fierce. I watched people go in and come out of pitch sessions. They didn’t always look encouraged. I made the decision to go in there and give my pitch.
Gordon Warnock, a partner with Fuse Literary, would be the man I faced. You have seconds to articulate your idea. Jennifer Duggins, a dear friend, offered some tips. I also went to my, new and forever love, Tex Thompson and got about three minutes of coaching on how to pitch. Without their generosity I probably wouldn’t have done it. I then received my instructions on what I needed to do once inside. I went in, made my pitch, and was asked to send my first three chapters. That’s a big deal. Since it was only an idea I now have to put together three chapters. Well alrighty then! I will not leave my dream to collect dust inside of me. A special thank you to Tex and Jennifer.
I had the privilege of making some new friends at the conference. Rachel LaMonica from Little Lamb Books, Anna L. Davis, Author of Open Source, Michelle Stimpson, a multi-published Author, Speaker, and Educator were just a few highlights of the conference for me. The few minutes I spoke privately with Thomas Kunkle, a nationally known author and President of St. Norbert College were priceless, as he thought I had a powerful story to tell. I enjoyed a few laughs with Tara McKelvey, a journalist and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. She has a unique sense of humor. And there were a host of interactions with too many people to mention. It was an all around great time.
We all have to discover our purpose. We have to find our passion. We have to be ready to redefine ourselves. The powers that be will align to make possible what we are meant to do. Never give up. Mistakes and failures can work in your favor if you give them a chance. I don’t know where this opportunity will end up. But I intend to find out! I hope this helps you – believe in yourself – because good things happen!