One Year Later…

Getting ready...
Getting ready…

It was around this time last year that I attended the Chicago Writers’ Conference without much of a clue of what I wanted except that I eventually I wanted to write and somehow make a living out of it eventually.

I walked into the kickoff party held in a packed “Irish” pub in the middle of The Loop.  People could hardly get through because of the conference organizers were doing early check-in of attendees.  The early arrivals got the primo spots on the small wooden tables and uncomfortable stools with laminated index cards as conversation starters.  I managed to overhear someone read a card about Hemingway being detrimental to the craft.  I didn’t think Star 80 was that bad.

But they could have been talking about Tolstoy for all I truly knew.  Flightlines with running F-15s were quieter than this place was.  I am not going to make that same mistake tonight.  There will be plenty of opportunity to drink at the Live Lit reading tomorrow.

Regarding the conference itself, I learned a lot, took a bunch of notes, and was left even more overwhelmed and baffled than when I started.  The writing and publishing world is a business in flux, to say the least.  Despite my complete lack of schmoozing skills and my anxiety about large social situations, I did manage to make some small talk with some hopefuls.  Imagine the shock when they asked me for business cards.

I had nothing to give them.

So I ended up going to an Office Depot that was shutting down, bought a pack, and wrote my details on them.  I was such a dork.

I learned from that too. There is a back to this.
I learned from that too. There is a back to this with more information.

It was time and money well spent because I was smacked with reality.  I could research for hours.  I could seek advice from a myriad of writers and editors.  I could read how-to books and articles.  I could get samples of putting the perfect pitch together.   I could catalog and index all sorts of information.  But that was not going to change one thing.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of putting my words out in public.

Until I could do that, everything else was pointless.  And it took going to this conference and some Come to Moses talks with The Boffin to make me dig down into the vulnerable gelatinous areas of my psyche.   You know, the part that tell you that you are woefully inadequate.

Starting small was key.

Hence, here I am on WordPress.

And where do I go from here?  Freelancing is still a good option, but I admit there are times when the old-fashioned route of conveniently dying and having The Sprog deal with my work is appealing.  Hey, it is a valid career path for writers.  They don’t have to worry about networking or promotion.

But for now, I am at the conference this year knowing I don’t have to make business cards with crayons.

16 thoughts on “One Year Later…

  1. You are an inspiration. I’m still in the fear part. I have no qualms about making an ass out of myself on a baseball field, but words?

    We’re all hoping the conference goes well for you. Hopefully some doors will open that were previously closed.

    We love you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We’re in the same boat, and on WordPress for the same reasons 🙂 You’re lucky to have writer’s conferences your way – I write in English which means no access to similar events here. Do please post to tell us how useful it turns out to be this time round? could nudge me into planning my next year’s USA trip around something like that 🙂 Oh, and your business card looks really professional!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Try two sites I have used to put work out. Just getting it out there helps break down the fear….

    First is, a brokerage site which will take what you write, and find a site on which to post it, depending on the material. It has published pieces on pets, philosophy, social issues, etc. for me. Each one can earn some money for you, as Triond keeps track of how much advertizing clicks your work generates, & pays according to the popularity of the piece.

    The other is They advertise small writing jobs (a LOT of short advertising blurbs), for various companies looking for material, and pay according to the length of the piece, and your own rating level, which is determined by them according to how closely you can write to the AP Model….

    I’ve made a little money from both, but, more than anything else, it gets your work out there, helping to break down that fear, without dumping you right into fame and fortune. You have to work hard, but, you learn a lot about writing on deadline… for Textbroker. Triond is more flexible….

    Good luck!….


    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re actually DOING something about trying to write? Wow! What a thought!

    I actually write for a living at work — and while it’s interesting, it’s not my stuff. But it would never occur to me to go to a conference because I have nothing to show. I guess I need to do something to change that, huh?

    Thanks for the kickstart. And GO GET EM!

    Liked by 1 person

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