Sometimes, I forget that not everyone puts as much energy into helping others as I do.
Before you judge that statement and me, let me explain.
I have an acquaintance who knows an author. I met with this acquaintance the other day and enjoyed speaking to him about anything and everything. The topic of writing came up and he said, “I know AU, who wrote [insert novel here]. Do you want me to reach out?”
Asking for help is really hard, but my friend offered, so of course, I said yes.
“What do you want to ask AU?”
I thought for a moment. What did I want to know? What could AU tell me that might be of interest to me?
“Would you mind asking him what made him different? What does he think made him stand out from everyone else? And I’d like to know what he’d tell aspiring authors.”
My acquaintance sent an email that very day and I have to say this: AU was quick. But the reply? Well, I found it a little . . . lacking. This is what AU wrote:
My big suggestion for your friend is to get involved with a writer’s group. That’s a great place to get feedback and ideas. She can find one through meetup.com and there are probably other ways of finding them too.
Been there, done that. (A million thanks to The Plot Sisters!) But thank you, AU.
I’d also suggest she join a professional organization such as IBPA. They have workshops that might be helpful.
My other suggestion is for her to go to a writer’s conference. She can learn from workshops and meet people who could represent her as well. If she’s just starting out, she’ll need to do a lot of writing to get to the place of it being something that is ready to go out. It takes a ton of work.
Can I say ditto again? Each year I attend some form of a writers’ conference and boy, do I know how much work it takes. Oh, how I know.
My gut feeling is that my friend never mentioned my background: that I’ve been editing at Literary Mama for almost four years and that I’ve had agents ask for my work. That I’m closely involved in the writing life here in Dayton and that, while I don’t have a published novel to my name, I wouldn’t call myself a beginner at this point, either. So I can’t blame AU entirely for the lackadaisical response.
But everything that AU gave me is something I can find out there, in cyberspace, after a quick internet search. I wanted something personal, something that gave me insight into his own journey, but something I could use or keep at the back of my mind when it came to plodding along my own journey. I wanted something that I would have given to someone else had someone asked me what made me stand out.
It’s hard not to be disappointed, but as usual, I’ve learned something from this experience. After I publish my novel and an aspiring writer reaches out to me from someone I know well, I will remember this post and take a few minutes to ask questions of the writer, or answer the question she sends. And, I’ll use this post as a reminder of “remember when.” Until then, I clearly have a lot of work to do.
P.S. I pretty much took the day off from writing yesterday, so I didn’t add much to my current NaNo WIP.