I had an awesome time at OCCRWA yesterday with my brothers and sisters in Romance.
It’s always so great to hang around with people who are in the trenches, writing books, pitching to agents, querying editors, and doing the dance of publishing. Writing can be an awfully solitary pursuit, though in point of fact, I always hoped it would be more solitary than it is. I know I’ve said this before, but I really had this mental image that I’d be able to write by myself by day and stare out at the stormy sea at night time. I figured I’d have my immediate family around, but that would be it. I saw the romanticized ideal a writer’s life as a walk in the woods, a cabin by a lake. I saw it as uneventful, solitary, reflective. And I saw that as good thing. A peaceful thing.
Well. It turns out writing isn’t exactly the peaceful gig I thought it would be. It’s fraught. It’s anxious. It’s hurry up and wait. It’s brave. It’s a little bit crazy. You’re stringing words together, essentially spewing your most intimate garbage out and other people get to judge it whether you want them to or not, so writing as a career is NOT the pleasant walk with the ghost of Thoreau I thought it was going to be:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”
The word peaceful has a positive opposite: Exciting.
And I am always excited to learn more about the craft of writing. I love my job and I love my colleagues. They come from all walks of life. You wouldn’t be able to spot the most successful writers I’ve met by just looking at them. You might just walk past them in the grocery store. The writer at RWA with a hundred published novels doesn’t act like the rock star she is. She’s kind. She’s accesible. She’ll answer questions, even if she’s heard them a hundred times.
One of the traits my colleagues share is generosity. Another is enthusiasm. They model optimism, humor, intelligence, and resilience. These are all characteristics the writers I have met share in abundance. And today, I’m so grateful I get to be part of the community of working professionals that make up the gang at RWA and the community of writers in general.
Thanks to everyone for keeping it lively, keeping it going, and keeping it real.