Friday, July 13, 2012
On...Twelve Steps for Shy-sters
Where I need a little intervention is in the "making the most of my opportunities" part.
The intervention came today in the guise of a panel entitled "The Writer Beyond the Writing." Panelists Libby Cudmore, Matthew Quinn Martin and Lexa Hillyer laid it out plain and simple: tell the truth, be generous, and watch your mouth (and your status updates). The meat of Cudmore and Quinn Martin's advice comes from their article in the June issue of Writer Mag entitled, aptly, "The 12 Commandments of Writing Conferences" and covers topics from never travelling without handouts and business cards to knowing your limits in the bar. One of the main points for me was the idea of generosity--that we should do our best to be good to our fellow writers, to share resources and information, to be gracious and willing to help. In short, to be part of a community of writers rather than a "wallflower" writer, as Cudmore put it, "sitting alone in the office listening to the Smiths." Hillyer, an Editor and co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit, followed up on the author/editor/agent/publisher etiquette side, and while listening, I learned a big lesson about fifteen minutes too late: don't complain about your experience with the publishing world--while it might sound valid to you when it comes out of your mouth, it sounds bitchy and whiny to everyone else...because guess what? It IS bitchy and whiny to complain about situations you actually signed up for. You'd think I would have wised up by now. Moi et ma bouche.
It was one of the most useful panels I've attended so far at the Stonecoast Alumni Reunion Conference. It pointed out that it's not enough to keep writing or even to keep writing well: the successful writer today has to learn how to succeed "beyond the writing." Of course, I already knew this; you can't sit with a group of writers without hearing about how the successful author has to be both writer and promoter, but where this panel excelled was that they not only isolated the problem, but they also provided a whole bag of solutions. Now, I just have to be prepared to turn off the Smiths.
Get that copy of June's of Writer Mag. It's good solid advice.