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.
Great post Jen! I didn’t get to go to RWA this year, but these posts like these make me feel inspired to get there next year. 🙂
Hi Renae! Great to see you here – we missed you big time at conference but maybe we will hook up in sunny CA!! So glad you enjoyed it – writers are so inspirational.
Jen – What a wonderful post! And so very true. There was so much inspiration to be had from the speakers – particularly from Sherilyn’s heart-felt speech. I don’t know how she was able to do that.
And it was great meeting you there!
Thanks so much, Tara. I agree – finally meeting you and hanging out in person was really great.
Such a great post and thanks for sharing it!
Thanks, Liz, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Wow, Jen. This week has been one of those where no matter what I did to clear time to write minor crises kept popping up to make it near impossible. It’s at times like those when I wonder if I have what it takes. Thanks for this post. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. Never Give Up!
Jen, Glad you had a good conference. Persistence is where it’s at. I’ve seen so many good writers give up and think part of the reason is they can’t seem to find a new path to take but keep running in the same place until they find themselves too deep to get out.
It is awesome that some people recognize what they are destined to do and go after it. I hope I have this type of dedication when I figure out exactly what I am suppose to be doing. 😉
Good post, Jennifer. Esp. since I missed her speech. But I certainly heard a lot about it. There was another speaker at the Rita ceremony who also gave a memorable speech. A doctor, who’d just won the GH, whose son…well, it was tragic.
I can’t imagine how awesome that must have been! The parts you shared with us really made me think about my own life… the people you described are truly every day hero’s… that’s something to strive for!
Hi Lisa! I always love when you stop by my blog – I just love everyday heroes that never get written up in the paper and don’t even realize they are heroes. HOpe you are having a great summer