I’m working on my speech – you know, the keynote I’m going to be asked to give one day soon.
I just returned from the PNWA Writer’s conference, and I’m pretty sure they hand every presenter a club and tell them to pummel any dream that crosses their path. Fortunately, Janet Evanovich wasn’t there, and I’ve heard she starts her Keynotes with, “You’ll never get published.” Every writer (I hope) is well aware of the odds against them, the insurmountable obstacles of the publishing world, and the unlikely chance their work will EVER see the light of day. I do not need one more person enlightening me, thank you very much.
Andre Dubus III was kind enough to say, all you need is some curiosity. Oh, shit.
How do we combat the naysayers, the angry non-belivers, the critics? Isn’t that survival? Finding a way to keep your dream alive, when EVERYONE, and I mean, EVERYONE is hunting it and will kill it given the chance.
Enter Keynote Speech :)
1. Find a “Sherpa.”
Someone has traveled the path you want to take. Maybe they made a map. Go get it from them. You want to be a Journalist, go find one. Ask them what it took to get there. What do they wish they’d known? What would they have done differently?
Did you lay in bed dreaming of being a Politician? Dog Groomer? Solar Astrophysicist? Same rules apply. Go ask one about their journey. Take notes.
2. Do NOT “Write What’s Hot.”
Writers often fall into the trap of writing what everyone is buying, and falling into the current trend. The same goes for careers. Just because Vampire books are all the rage today doesn’t make it right for you. Same goes for IT Technicians or LPNs. Write what you love = Do what you love. There are life cycles to consider. It takes years for a book to make it from your soul to the bookshelf. It will take the same journey to travel from school to paycheck.
3. If you build it, they will come.
(This is where I get to date myself with a movie reference)
Why do you want to be an Actress, Writer, Politician, Dog Groomer? (those are separate jobs, not one!) If is fame and fortune – great! You don’t have to tell anyone why, but you’d damn sure better get in touch with it, down to the finite cellular level. You can tell everyone the reason is to help starving children in Africa, but if your true reason is for the fatty paycheck and face on the cover of a magazine, that better be the image you hold in your heart.
When everyone is taking their stick to your dreams and telling you it’s a stupid idea and it’s time to get a real job – that “why” will be the only thing keeping it on life support. If you can’t figure out the “why” then it’s not the career (book) for you. Try again. Keep digging until you find the one that makes you teary-eyed and tugs at your gut.
4. Never. Never. Never Give Up.