My speaking engagement at the High Point Country Club was one of the best ever. Over thirty women gathered for their monthly meeting of the Triad Women's Forum. I was the guest speaker. I love venues like this. These women opened their hearts and received me with warm hugs and words I really needed to hear. Their encourgement and compliments sent me home wishing I could speak to groups like this every day.
Southern Fried Women is still selling! The ladies stood in line while I signed their books. It did my old heart good. And, of course, I got to plug Beth Hoffman's book in the meantime! Oh yes, I did. Writers can either resolve themselves to total and complete competition with other writers or absolute support. I choose support.
I can't even count how many times I've talked about my friend, Dena Harris, during my speeches, encouraging others to check out her web site and buy her book, Lessons in Stalking. I've only met Jodi Picoult on three different occassions, and I've recommended her books for years. Now I'm toting Beth Hoffman's book everywhere I go. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a warm and wonderful feel-good read. It stirs the heart, and I have put it into many hands the past few months. It should be read and enjoyed. Kathryn Stockett's book, The Help, is another one of my favorites this year.
Writers should be part of other writers success stories. I've been told and have read that the industry is cut-throat. That may be the case, but I won't have any part of it. There are plenty of readers to go around, and although the tastes in reading varies from reader to reader, I will continue to market the books of my dear writing friends, as well as my own.
My focus has changed since beginning this journey. Someone said recently, that they haven't seen me at any writing conferences lately. Well, there's a good reason.
Where I used to spend boatloads of time and money on regional and national writing conferences, critique groups, classes--I find my time is better spent these days concentrating on producing the work. So, where is it you ask? Hold on to your hats, folks. It's right around the corner. After a few years of bumps and bruises, I'm hopeful. With two novels in hand, I hope to see the light of a publishing day in the very near future.
Conferences, critique groups, and classes are important and I do encourage writers (especially beginners) to take part and find the resources to attend as many as possible. But there comes a time when you got to write! There are only so many hours in a day, and when you divide those hours with the time you need to spend with family and other necessary daily functions (like cooking, eating, bathing, blogging and RESEARCH) well you get the picture. Your time for writing can slip away and nothing can bring it back.
One day I began to wonder how many conferences, critique groups, and classes was Harper Lee involved in? Or Margaret Mitchell. Or Flannery O'Conner. Or Eudora Welty. Or Truman Capote. Or Louisa May Alcott. Or even Dorothea Benton Frank, Barbara Kingsolver, Diana Gabaldon, Ken Follett, Anita Shreve, or J.K. Rowling. I know these writers gave of themselves by teaching ocassional classes, and probably did their fair share of marketing, but did they neglect their writing time? Of course not.
A writer can spend years in class, and never be published. I don't have that kind of time.
Now, I hardly put myself in the league of the above greats, but I'm striving for it. I'm working my butt off to get there sometime before I pass on. It's a goal, and if I see even a portion of it, I'd be thrilled beyond words.
It takes huge blocks of time to produce great stories, and although we never know it all--we're always learning more about our craft--I sincerely doubt I'll ever spend the kind of time I spent in years past on more writing conferences. Sometimes, you just have put your nose to the grindstone. Do what Diana Gabaldon told me once. Read. Write. Don't Stop.
So, in a nutshell, that's what I do. Throw in speaking engagments, where I continue to support other authors and sell my work, and my time is spent. I do look forward to coming up for air, speaking when I can, and meeting my readers--but if I don't spend time writing, then what a waste of the past twenty years. I got a lot of great stories inside me. It's not fair to keep them all to myself.
Blessings to you and yours.