Over the past two Fearless Friday blog posts, I’ve shared a bit of my writing journey (What’s Oprah Got to Do with It and On the Oprah Path). From childhood dreams of “being a writer” to an unexpected “a-ha” moment from an Oprah show, my focus has always been on my love of writing.
I attended my first writing conference in September 2009 in Denver. On my own. I knew no one. I had paid for a critique of my story, telling the person to be honest with their feedback. Lesson #1 – never say that to someone who doesn’t know you. While I thought I was ready for honest feedback (and I was…to a point), I had yet to learn that critiques are someone’s opinion, not fact.
We met the evening before the official conference kickoff. I was nervously excited, sure she would have glowing things to say, along with a few suggestions that would make it a best seller. This was my moment. I was so proud of myself for bravely flying alone to a writer’s conference, submitting my work, sharing a hotel room with two strangers. I was on the end of the dock waving a hanky as I watched my ship on the horizon, heading toward me.
She liked exactly one phrase in the entire 35 pages I’d submitted. Spoken by a janitor (who didn’t even end up in the finished book). One. Thing. And she didn’t have suggestions for making it passable (let alone something that would sell).
The ship not only came in, it destroyed the dock and nearly took me out. (Check out this video if you don’t believe me!)
Although everything in me wanted to jump on the next plane back to Minnesota where I would forsake all dreams of a writing career, I stuck it out because of my amazing roommates. But it wasn’t a pretty couple of days. I went to workshops, ate meals with strangers who all seemed to know each other, and wondered why I ever thought pursuing a writing career was a good idea.
The critique didn’t go well, my pitching sessions with agents were humiliating flops, and I hadn’t made a million new friends as the conference promos had suggested would happen. But once back in the safety of my home, I realized that it had actually been a successful trip.
I’d put on my big girl pants (numerous times) and took steps to follow my dream. What I learned was that this was not going to be an easy journey, but God would provide what I needed to at least stay upright.
After all, we can’t guarantee the results but we can reap of the benefits of faithfully putting one foot in front of the other. It’s the only way to move forward.