A little over six years ago, I flew by myself to a hotel in Chicago. There was a little event going on there called the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention.
Now...here's the thing...I wasn't attending the event. I couldn't afford it. I wasn't even spending the night at the hotel the free shuttle took me to. I had scrimped and saved and raked together enough cash for the plane ticket and some cheap meals (which I never ended up using because everyone I met kept feeding me. LOL) Nope, I flew in, and went to the bar, because as one author mentor told me, "They can't kick you out of the bar!"
I was welcomed into a circle of women who chatted with me about their books, and their success, and then they did something awesome...they looked at me and said, "What are you writing?"
Me? Write? For real? Nah.
Then they asked me why not? And you know what...I couldn't come up with a good enough reason why not. Not to give them, and not even enough of a reason in my own mind.
I had a friend take me under her wing and sneak me into some rooms so I could see how the whole convention thing worked. I had other friends talk to me about contracts and how publishing worked, and I had even better friends smack me upside the head to knock some sense into me.
I laughed, I had a few drinks, and I found a storyteller inside myself. I found a home in Romancelandia. Every time I think about quitting or tell myself it's not worth putting another query out, I think back to myself sitting in the back of the shuttle to take me to the plane ride home.
Inside that dark shuttle I began shaking. Tears formed in my eyes and I couldn't keep them from falling no matter how desperately I tried. It was midnight when I was picked up from the airport, but I'd never been more awake than I was in that moment. I'm a romance writer. I love the genre. I love the stories. I love the people. This space I've carved out for myself is my home.
So when I see people say conferences aren't worth the money...we can agree to disagree, because those women (and a few men too!), changed my life. Their books woke me up to a new type of storytelling. Their open arms showed me I could do this. And now, their friendship has shown me I can't quit.
While you may not be able to afford a conference...email is free. Facebook is free. Goodreads is free. Twitter is free. Find your family, because they are out there.
And to everyone who met with me on April 12th, 2012...thank you. You changed me, and my ideas about myself. While I'm not signing books at sold out venues, I got my first publishing contract because of you. I sold my first book because of you. I have print books on my shelf with my name on them, because you made me ask myself, "Why not?"
To anyone who might be waffling on the idea of getting into this industry...flat out, writing is the most wonderful, terrifying, anxiety-inducing, rewarding, heart-wrenching business. But the first person who has to believe you can do it is you.
Are you thinking of writing but not doing it?