I just returned from a panel discussion entitled Breaking In: How To Get an Agent and a Publisher, which I found very encouraging. It featured non-fiction author Lucy Hedrick, young adult author Nina Nelson, literary agent Denise Marcil, and novelist Prill Boyle. To be honest, having been caught up in the whole writing/publishing/marketing whirlwind for approximately two decades now, much of what was said was not new to me; nevertheless, there were really helpful bits of information regarding the changes in the literary market--especially non-fiction--in recent years. Mostly, however, it was a plain, old-fashioned motivator. Time and time again the panelists stressed three points:
1. Remaining devoted to your writing
2. Not allowing yourself to be discouraged
3. Writing from the heart
I suppose we all need to be reminded of this. There are many options out there, from traditional publishing to self-publishing, winning contests, the Hybrid Alternative (of which I had never heard), and printing on demand; nevertheless, one thing remains true, and this is that one has to be motivated by the hunger to write, the love of writing, and the desire to write well.
Also, I found myself having to admit that as the years have elapsed, I have indeed found it difficult to actually "write from the heart". As I have accumulated more and more experiences--some positive, some negative, all life-altering--the tendency to distance myself from those emotions, sensations, reactions, and responses has become more commonplace. Perhaps with age, our self-protective instincts kick in, making it more difficult to so enthusiastically and regardless of inhibitions delve into our deepest selves, dredge up pain and regret, then slap it into print for all to read. Further, maybe my time as a freelance editor (who constantly lectures her clients not to separate themselves from their characters, from that narrative voice) has conditioned me to remain dispassionate and detached in a way that I, in my youth, did not.
All I know is that I did not realize how much I need refreshment until the thirst was quenched.
The moral, people:
Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves to write, discuss writing, encourage, critique, and share experiences. No writer is alone, and even in this uncertain market with publishing companies losing money, cutting budgets, reducing titles, there are success stories...and they all begin with individuals who love to write, make the decision to write as best they can, and refuse to give up or be dissuaded in their writing.
So start typing, ya'll!
By the way, has anybody else out there attended any good (informative, useful, interesting) forums, lectures, or workshops? If so, I would love to hear about them!