Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bravery takes guts

As a struggling, wannabe published author wishing to strengthen my craft, I attended an SCBWI Midsouth writing conference this weekend.

I could write about the revisions ahead of me, but the clock ticks. Doing trumps talking. After I limber these digits and stretch my mind, I’ll get right on it.

I could blog at length about the energizing aspect, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, I’m pumped.

After realizing that others work full-time, volunteer selflessly, mother their mothers and care for six children yet squeeze in time to write, I definitely won’t describe my feelings of inadequacy.

Instead, today’s topic covers bravery—the bravery it takes to talk with agents and editors, the guts it takes to anonymously submit work and have it read aloud by those same folks and not burst into tears if you detect rejection, and, most of all, the courage it takes to meet new people.

I liken the latter to a story my husband relates about my daughter. Entering her preschool the first day, Rachel chattered away but clung to his hand a bit anxious about the prospect. One of the teachers greeted them, and my husband stopped to say a few words. The next thing he knew, Rachel was no longer by his side. Looking around, he found her snugly safe in a circle of a dozen other preschoolers.   

Being somewhat on the shy side, I lack the confidence my daughter displayed so bravely. But I came prepared to this conference to wiggle into whatever circle would have me. This happened through sheer determination; and, believe me, it wasn’t always comfortable. Many people knew each other, as one would expect.

On dessert night, I walked in alone. My hands shook and my innards quaked. My nervousness caused me to splash wine all over myself as I talked with an editor, but, at least, I didn’t douse her. For a few minutes, I wasn’t any less nervous when talking to other writers. I was the new kid on the block, the one with the need to reach out or flounder.

Floundering stinks. Eating alone stinks, too. But, most of all, getting beyond one's self-consciousness increases one's enjoyment at a function like this. For those reasons, I reached out to others and I never ate alone.

I figure this prepares me for life in a nursing home. Make friends quickly, or else.

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