But here is a thought that might be relevant to you, whether or not you went to the conference, whether or not you're even a writer.
See, I did a great class with Laura Maisano on Saturday, called Prose P90X. It went swimmingly - we filled up the whole room, and got loads of compliments. We were a great team!
|Look at all those shining faces!|
Here's the thing, though: because the class started exactly when extra pitch sessions went on sale, I didn't get nearly that kind of turnout. When it came time to start, there were only maybe twenty people scattered through that huge, cavernous room. More than that, the bright stage lights meant I couldn't see them, and the distance meant that unless they hollered right at me, I couldn't hear them either. It felt like teaching a class at the bottom of an empty swimming pool at midnight.
|Meanwhile, photographic evidence suggests that it LOOKED |
like some kind of xenopornographic TED talk.
(Big thanks to Amber Draeger for the photos!)
But I kept at it, and kept soliciting questions, and started getting substantial answers, so I knew there were at least a few people who were out there and wanted to talk to me. By the time we finished, it had stopped being a sermon and become a true discussion, which is what I love best.
Well, imagine my surprise when I finished and stepped aside, and saw that the room had filled up. People must have been trickling in during that hour, coming in ones and twos as they finished buying their extra pitch sessions and headed up to catch the class. I don't know how many were there at the end, but I got over sixty names on my email sheets - and that's just the ones who cared enough to stand in line and sign up to get the PDF slides.
|Image blurred to protect their identities.|
I'm sorry, but this morning I didn't know who you were.
Then you showed up on a panel and made some great comments.
Then I saw you at lunch and you were having SUCH a great time.
So when I checked my after-lunch class selections and saw your name, I altered my initial choice to take in P90X.
Wow... Great information, delivered fast and entertainingly.
So here I am in the balcony, listening to Comma Sutra. (Excellent!) But mostly I'm wondering: who the Hell are you and where did you come from? You're a freak of nature, and we need more.
Thanks for sharing yourself. You make it a better - and smarter - world.
And thanks for making my conference!
And maybe this doesn't make for a riveting anecdote, but like... that hour summed up my entire year to date. I've spent so much time out and about over the past few months, striving like the dickens to be seen and get known. It's fun and I genuinely love doing it - being out in the real world with real people lights me up like nothing else! - but there are so many nights when I flop into a Motel 6 bed, utterly spent, and stare up into the darkness wondering what the hell I'm playing at. When you're promoting yourself, you're not really helping other people, and not really creating anything new, either - you're just trying to shine a spotlight on something you've already done, which people may or may not even notice, let alone care about. And most of the time, you can't tell if it's working.
And I know that's not just me, and not just book-promotion. Every facet of writing is like that sometimes. Shoot, LIFE is like that sometimes. My mom said that about raising kids - you know, how you spend your whole entire day exhausting yourself, and at the end of it, you can't see that you've accomplished anything, because the house and the kids and your life look exactly like they did when you got up that morning. My dad would say the same thing about his job, too: how he was so happy to mow the lawn on the weekend, because it was a measurable thing with a definable, visible, guaranteed result - not at all like the nebulous phone calls and vague paper-pushing that made up the rest of the week.
|The red days are my out-of-town days - which are usually interspersed with oh-god-I'm-wasting-my-life nights.|
But I hope you'll keep at it, whatever 'it' may be - and I believe that if you do it well enough, for long enough, you will eventually start getting those pingbacks, seeing the fruits of your labor. Maybe you'll fill up the metaphorical room, and maybe you won't - but statistically speaking, there is almost-certainly somebody out there who's waiting to hear EXACTLY what you have to say... and you can't know that until and unless you have the courage to stay the course and say it.
All right - sermon over. Go forth and preach, y'all - and if you have time, holler some encouragement to the people in your life who are doing likewise. Yours might be the only voice they can hear.