There are those writers who are dead serious about their art. They write not for publication, an audience, renown, or money, but only for their art. They spend their time pursuing their craft in a relentless, unbending pursuit of perfection. This post is not for them.
But you…you are looking for publication, you have an audience for your work, or you’ve got that special monkey on your back that demands that this story be told to the widest audience possible. You, then, are the ones that this post is for. So, a small tale and a lesson.
I belong to a regional author’s group. Presumptuous, you would think, given that I have exactly two writing credits, only one of them paid. I informed them, and they said “come on in!”. Cool. Then a writing group in Philly invited our group to their “The world didn’t end, so you better finish that novel” party, put on by a rather successful author (NYT best-seller, etc, etc.) It was 60+ miles away from my house. Here in densely populated NJ, a 65 mile drive is a tad over two hours one-way and well beyond the limit of most people. So, the party was not well attended by the NJ contingent.
There were over fifty people there, however. It was amazing. I met at least two authors who had multi-book deals with the Top Six, and one with one of his books optioned for TV. The host, Mr. NYT-listed honcho, talked to me about my writing. For some unfathomable reason, I mentioned a short story that I had been stuck on, but stopped working on, about a year ago.
He said, “You know, that has a lot of possibilities. If I were writing it, I would write it as a YA, with series potential. If you do that, make it about 70k, and send it to me. I’ll see if we can get it to people who can make it work.” I really don’t remember much about the drive back. My brain was too busy rearranging the story line. Then on Christmas, I woke about two hours before everyone else and just lay there, going over the plot in my mind. Now, I don’t for a moment believe that this author promised me anything. Still….what a rush!
Here’s the lesson: Seize opportunities to network yourself! Be flexible enough to take advantage of those serendipitous moments where preparednesss meets opportunity. If I hadn’t joined that first writing group, I never would have known about the party. If I had not been flexible enough to drive 65 miles, one-way, to that party, then I would never have been face-to-face with the famous author, and would never have gotten that great advice and offer.
So say yes! Not to everything, certainly. But the more prominent the event or organization, the more flexible you need to be.