While I was waiting to hear back on STILL WATERS, I met several pre-pubbed authors and even joined a critique group. Up to that point, I'd been writing in a cocoon, completely oblivious to anything and everything that had to do with the writing world. As I immersed myself into a totally new culture, I heard a lot of talk about the benefits of networking, the importance of attending conferences, and the need to know people. This worried me.
I knew a lot of people. However, it was obvious that those people were not the right people and that somehow my career as a writer was going to be hurt by my inability to connect with the right crowd. I began to feel like a high school freshmen standing on the fringe of the popular clique - never invited in, always just a smile away from being part of them. I didn't have the money for conferences. My kids were seven, five, four, and one. I barely had time to put words on page, let alone chat with groups of writers, rub shoulders with editors, and fly to writing conferences. Was I destined to fail before I'd even begun?
A few years later, I can say with certainty that it isn't conferences or people who help an author toward success. It's hard work, determination, perseverance in the face of rejection. It's trusting in gut instincts and believing in a story enough to carry it through to completion. Writing isn't about rules, it isn't about hobnobbing, it isn't about conferences or contests. It's about the joy of putting words to paper, it's about creating word pictures that come to life in the mind of readers. It's about work, work, work.
If you find time for other things...good. If not, don't sweat it. You're going to be just fine!