A few weekends back I went to Dallas to visit my BF and her new ADORABLE little baby. I reserved my room ahead of time via Expedia (in the future maybe I will get paid for that endorsement) and by the time I got to checking in it was pretty late. It was freezing out, even though it was May in Texas (record low, yay me?) so I was flustered and stumbling as I hauled my overpacked suit case towards the front desk. The effeminate man behind the counter asked “Emily Shaw?”
And I jokingly said, “Why yes, however did you know?”
He laughed, I laughed and in my head I played out an entire fantasy that involved me checking into the Ritz-Carlton, normally my people do this for me. How simple, how fun. Of course this hotel might be a little nicer had it not been a Super 8 located directly next to the LOUDEST FREEWAY EVER.
But then the most amazing thing happened, he said to me, “Are you a writer?”
I thought to myself, have I made it? Do I carry myself like a writer now? Do I smell or look like a writer? I was taken aback and he must have noticed because he quickly added on, “Are you here for the big writing convention next door?”
Wah-wah. The warm fuzzy feeling sank out of me as quick as it came. Not only was I NOT there for the writing convention, I was not even aware that there was a writing convention. What sort of writer am I? I am not nearly committed enough to the craft.
After I checked into my gorgeous room (insert pic here with witty comment like – Why yes that is a giant billboard screen that continues to glow all throughout the night.) I went online to see what this writer’s convention was all about.
My heart pounded, adrenaline racing. This was the sign from a universe! It couldn’t be a coincidence.
Cue next fantasy: I walk into the convention, head held high. An older, kind looking man drops a packet of papers. I immediately bend to pick them up and say “Here sir, here is your packet of papers you have just dropped.”
He turns to me smiling and says, “My dear young lady, such few people these days have your kindness.”
To which, I tilt my head down and blush modestly.
“Are you a writer?” He will ask me, as it appears we carry an invisible sign that others can sense.
He asks to hear about it and I tell him with perfect grace the a simple, yet eloquent back cover explanation of my book. I do not stutter nor blush. I am a proud writer. (I do leave out that my book is just in first draft form.)
He looks at me, eyes shining as though a light bulb just lit up above his head. “My dear that sounds like a book I would want to sell!”
Turns out my new friend is top editor and one of the biggest publishing companies in the country, and while they normally never except first time writers he has a special feeling about me.
When I say, “But you haven’t even it read a line of it sir.”
He scoffs, “But I have met you and your confidence and personality is all I need.”
Fade out as I dream of walking into Barnes and Noble and see my book on display…
I decide this is my destiny. I click over to the ticket page to buy a ticket, maybe just to a speaker or two, having never been to one of these conventions I was unaware how it worked.
Tickets 350$. I clicked away and turned off my phone. It was a nice thought while it lasted. Plus I was really there to visit with Cassie anyway.
Incidentally, (I’m just finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky and the narrator says that quite often) the following weekend back here in the Burque a similar event took place. The Southwest Book Fiesta (http://www.swbookfiesta.com/) also had professional speakers and authors reading samples, and dozens of informational booths set up but it cost only TEN DOLLARS A DAY! Yeah baby. Remember how writers are poor?
I went one day and met up with some WBWW peeps. We listened to a great speaker about common grammar mistakes and a few others about publishing and the importance of setting. Feeling bold I spoke to a woman at the Southwest Writers booth (http://southwestwriters.com/index.php).
When she asked me if was a writer I said something vivacious like, “Umm, yeah well…like kind of. Well umm I write but yeah I haven’t been published but it’s like sort of Chick-lit and fantasy, kind of.”
She smiled and nodded politely meanwhile I could almost hear her thinking, “Oh here’s another one.”
So here’s what I learned at the Convention:
-Do not get into writing if you wish to be well paid.
-Days of editors fixing your shitty writing are dead.
-Unless you are a celebrity or a Dan Brown best seller-type, you will not likely see your book at a Barnes and Noble (there goes that fantasy…for now).
-There are a lot of different ways to get published, most of which involve pimping yourself out and fighting tooth and nail for somebody to read your damn book.
-Seriously, writers make no money why the hell are you even here?
Even after all that I have to say I felt inspired. Truly. Normally, I would have felt overwhelmed and outnumbered. Clearly, the world is filled with thousands and thousands of writers who were all far better than me. There is such a slim margin of success it is like being an actor (or any artist really). Yet, there was something about being with a group of people who share your passion that got my heart pounding. People that get what it feels like to have your insides ripped out and pressed into paper. People that know the fear, know the excitement. They get it.
I’m more motivated than ever even though rationally, I should just throw in the towel. For me though, this is the only option.
Talk to you later.
Current song: “I Love It” by Icona Pop feat. Charlie XCX