Pay it Forward

I still remember the day writer’s reality bit me in the ass.  I had just received my twentieth rejection – a predetermined point at which I’d decided I would re-evaluate – when the doubt started to kick in.  What if this didn’t go as smoothly as I’d naively imagined it would?  Perhaps I didn’t write the next Twilight, which I’d known for certain I had even if it didn’t have the mesmerizing Edward Cullen (or vampires for that matter).  Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t going to be the exception to the rule.

I was terrified.

Some people might’ve quit at that point, but me?  Well, I’m a glutton for punishment.  After a few days of moping, I pulled up my big girl panties, put on a strangled smile, and responded with, “Yes sir!  May I have another?”  (And another, and another).  And as I rode this sick merry-go-round over and over again I went in search of help, finding it in my local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

I turned into the sponge I was when I was a kid, soaking up every dribble of knowledge I could about my craft.  I learned acronym after acronym, like POV, GMC, and BBM.  I attended workshop after workshop about tension, dialogue, and character arcs.  I thrived on the stones of knowledge I was gaining, and I was grateful to those who had been so kind as to pass them on to me.  One day, I’d find a way to pay it forward.

Then it happened.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching the afternoon workshop at the Carolina Romance Writers chapter.  I’ll be honest (because that’s just what I do), I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the opportunity when I was first asked to speak.  Why would anyone care what Jenna Patrick – an unpublished author with a couple hundred rejections under her belt – had to say?  And how in the hell was an introvert like me going to get through this anyway?  What if the audience threw tomatoes or, worse yet, asked me questions?

Once again, I was terrified.

But I pushed through because I realized this was just another stone.  Maybe it was time for me to work on the business part of my craft, particularly a skill I’d been avoiding – public speaking.  And in the process, I’d get to help others out who might’ve recently been bitten in the ass with writer’s reality as I once had.  I had something to share and there were folks out there who needed me to share it.

And wouldn’t you know it…there were absolutely NO tomatoes.

So today I challenge all the writers out there, no matter what stage of the process you’re in.  Think outside the box.  Take that risk.  Continue to soak up that knowledge.  Don’t except things for what they appear to be, but strive to be better.  And when asked, be sure to pay it forward.

They’re all pavers building this long road we’ve set out on.

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