Don’t you love convening with like-minded folks?
I had such a fabulous time speaking at the NETWO Writers’ Conference last weekend!
Writers’ conferences jazz me. Talking about all things writing and meeting with new writers and published authors as well is always fun, as is meeting new friends such as Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary.
Part of it is that writing is such a lonely endeavor, as anyone who pens anything from novels to blogs and everything in between knows. We toil away in that solitary hopefully well-lighted room, alone with our words and stories and imaginary worlds. So it’s great to get together with others doing the same and visit with real people now and then.
I was honored to give the opening speech for the conference, titled “Why I Write.”
Because of course I write for the same reason everybody else does: To become Rich and Famous.
We all had a nice chuckle over that! And hopefully you did too, if you’ve spent much time writing and blogging and working at building an audience. Because you know how insane that sentiment actually is.
But there’s truth to it, no? Anytime we work at something creative, we probably went into it with at least some stars in our eyes about where it would take us. Because we’re not creating in a vacuum, right? We’re creating for others to read, see, experience, etc., what it is we’re inventing.
So when you boil it down to the essence, what does Rich and Famous mean for a writer/blogger/artist?
We all sobered up soon enough from the original drunken euphoria of where our craft would take us as far as actual dollars. Fairly quickly. So that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What the Rich part means—to virtually all writers I know, in all forms—is that you can buy more time to work on your craft. To write. Hopefully at some point, to quit your day job in order to write (insert anything creative here) more and more and more.
Because that’s what artists do, no? We live to create. And ah, the nirvana of having undisturbed time to do so.
And what does the Fame part mean?
It means you’ve found your audience—no matter the size.
And don’t all entrepreneurs want this?
One might think that finding that audience would be simple. All writers come into this business with those aforementioned stars in their eyes. “You’ll be the next Hemingway! Everyone will gush over your stunning prose, your compelling characters, the stories that transcend time and space and take readers to the moon!”
Memoirists and short-story writers and bloggers and, well, everyone who writes at least once had that thought! Admit it 🙂
And that’s not a bad thing—we all want someone to actually read what we write. It’s in our bones.
But we’re not everyone’s cup of tea, no? As my mother used to say, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round.”
And all kinds of people love all kinds of different things.
For novelists, we face this from inception to end. Ah, the rejections gleaned while trying to get an agent to say yes. Finding the right agent can take years to decades. And then, the rejections from publishers until one of them says yes (the good news is, it only takes one yes!).
And then the book comes out and behold and lo—not everyone likes it. Who knew!
But reviews help us to hone that audience as well. They’re great for that.
When I Just Came here to Dance was published last fall, it received a whole host of great reviews. Oh, how those warm an author’s heart. To know someone got it, truly got it, appreciated the story and characters and writing, well, that can light an eon of dark nights.
Of course, a few not-so-stellar reviews came in as well. One guy couldn’t have hated it more. He wrote a long, scathing review that virtually ended with blaming me for the demise of literature in the Western world.
It was so unfailingly hateful and extreme, it gave us all a laugh. You might as well check it out at the link above. LOL.
Which is a good thing when you can find the humor in someone hating you 🙂
But the point of that is, all the reviews helped us (it does take a village) to focus more sharply on the audience for my fiction for next time. Because of course, that’s the first step in finding the folks who do love my work.
And isn’t that the point? Again, not everybody is going to like or appreciate what we offer up. The world just doesn’t work that way.
But there are a lot of people who will eat it up. And no matter what type of service you’re involved in, building up your audience with like-minded folks is one of the main points of the exercise.
So, yep, I write for the same reasons everybody else does—to become Rich and Famous.
Y’all can laugh here!
The Truth of the matter is, however, I do write for the same reason everyone else does. It’s as Maya Angelou said in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Because it has a song.
We, as writers, again no matter what form that takes, have a song to sing. A story to tell. Wisdom or guidance to impart.
That’s why we do what we do, no?
So go write that book or blog. Go send your creative fruits out into the stratosphere. The world needs you.
With all your heart, go sing to the heavens
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.