Disclaimer: You do not have to be a writer or have attended the RWA 2011 conference in order to enjoy this blog entry!
Most writer’s have come back from the Romance Writers of America conference in Manhattan inspired, exhausted, and ready to take on new writing challenges. Everyone took something individual and unique for his or her own writing journey, but this time I viewed the conference on a larger scale.
There seemed to be one theme pushing its way to the top in flashing neon lights.
NEVER GIVE UP
Sounds simple, right? Sounds like a writer’s motto, right? But when you take the general theme, and apply it on the individual scale, you see so much more. You suddenly see personal stories that blow past your own barriers and limitations and suddenly, everything seems clearer. Again, this is so much bigger than the usual writerly scale. This is a superhuman, world view of power.
Most of the speakers pushed the limits of comfort and instead of giving us a pat, cheerleading speech of “Write, write, write, hoorah!” they reached deep into their souls, pulled out the truth and pain, and had the courage to share.
Sherilyn Kenyon hit the NYT bestselling list with her paranormal romances. Most readers never knew her true story, and figured she’d gotten lucky. This never belies her talent, but people seem to gloss over famous writers and assume they never had it too hard. Maybe a bit of rejection here and there, but certainly nothing to whine about.
With a bravery that truly humbled me, she shared with a group of strangers her writing path which included a somewhat abused childhood, numerous rejections, one on a personal scale that basically told her she would never make it in the industry, horrific finances where scraping up enough money for a stamp was a do or die event, and tragic family loss. As I heard obstacle after obstacle build up, and my mouth dropped open in horror, I heard a tiny voice inside of me that said, I would have given up. I just don’t know if I would have the personal strength and grit to go on. But she did. And now she’s here to tell about it. Her victory made me believe in the underdog again.
I met women with tears in their eyes as they expressed the sacrifices they made in order to keep writing and following their dream. I heard women tell me they had only one person in life that made a difference, even when the majority sneered and encouraged surrender to the “real” world. I heard “famous” authors confess their agent dropped them and they were deader than Elvis – yet they believed in themselves against all odds and re-invented themselves. Sort of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes – one of my favorite symbols.
This is not just about someone’s dream to be a published writer. This is in regards to any dream that we hold close to our hearts. Whether it to be a mother, an artist, a CEO, or President of the United States. It can be on the level of trying something that scares the crap out of us, or digging deep for strength to keep going in a difficult situation that doesn’t seem to end.
Perseverance. Belief in ourselves and our importance to dream. Demanding respect for allowing to be who we are, not matter what others tell us we SHOULD be.
Yes, that was the true theme of the writer’s conference. Sure, I learned from the best on craft, time schedules, and social networking. I discovered new authors and met friends who I will have for life.
But mostly, I remembered how hard it is to follow your own path or your own dream. It should never be underestimated or discouraged. It is an honor in this life to finally discover what you truly want. We should never give up on that dream easily, and we should always encourage others.
It is just too important to forget.