By: Marie Force
I just got back from a conference in Phoenix put on by the company I work for by day, a membership organization a lot like RWA only we support government finance professionals rather than romance writers. Our conference was on internal control & fraud—not how to do it but how to find it and stop it. I enjoy this annual conference because I find the stupid schemes people try to pull off and think they'll get away with to be endlessly entertaining. Anyway, I met a guy named Greg from Atlanta who said something that really got me thinking. After the conference, Greg and his girlfriend were heading to Sedona for a few days. One of the things they planned to do there was a hot air balloon ride. Greg had never done this before and wasn't sure he really wanted to. "I'm not opposed to the height," he said. "I'm opposed to the risk." Spoken like a true auditor!
However, his comical comment got me thinking about all the risks each of us had to take to get to the place we're at today—with either books on the shelves or books working their way to publication over the next year. For many of us, just sitting down to write the book in the first place was a big gamble. Can I? Can't I? If I do, will anyone like it? Will it ever sell? It was a big risk to put ourselves and our work out there for consideration by industry professionals. Do you remember sending that first query and hoping you'd be one of the lucky ones snapped up by the first agent you queried? Most of knew we were in for a lot of rejection, but we took the risk anyway. How does one ever prepare for the sheer volume of rejection we face in this business? Just like no one can adequately prepare you for the impact of having a child, rejection is something you have to live through to fully appreciate.
I'm amazed by how many people are afraid to take any of these risks. They say they've always wanted to be a writer, but haven't actually tried it. I ask why not? Unlike medicine or law, you don't need an advanced degree. A pen and a pad of paper works just as well as a computer if that's all you have handy. I've also been amazed by people who ask me how to get published. My first question is usually, what do you write? To which the answer is most often, I haven't written anything yet. Hmm, well, it's hard to publish something that doesn't exist. Nora Roberts says it best: You can't edit a blank page. Amen.
I took the risk. My Casa sisters took the risk. We committed parts and pieces of ourselves to stories that we then put forth so they could be rejected and reviewed. We thickened our skin and refused to give up. We wrote new things and took new risks. I took a risk by writing a book about a subject outside my comfort zone—football—and that book turned out to be my ticket into the club.
Unlike my auditor friend, I'm okay with the risk. I'm not, however, all that wild about heights. How about you?