AKA When the Universe Gives you a Gift you didn’t Know You Needed
I spent this past weekend at the Washington Romance Writers annual retreat, In the Company of Writers. I didn’t go last year because I made a “business” decision that it wasn’t worth my dollars. I figured there were no readers there other than authors who already knew me. And even this year, I wasn’t that enthused about going, but since I’m the secretary of the board of the chapter, I felt a responsibility to be there. My attitude was a Big. Mistake.
Writing is a lonely job. I’m at my desk for hours a day, and I don’t think social media counts as a real connection. People need people. And more importantly, writers need writers. So off I went to Westminster MD armed with chocolate, raffle baskets, and a costume for Romance Jeopardy. I was ready to take notes on marketing and strategize my business plan based on talks from Liliana Hart, and maybe I’d connect with some editors and put in a good word for my currently shopped manuscript.
But something else happened. Something I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes in life the Universe slaps you in the face in such a way you can’t ignore. To ignore it would be akin to blasphemy. It started at Liliana’s Friday night talk. She was passionate. She was excited about the business. She “Knows” me, because we are writers.
The next morning I sat in on Diana Cosby’s marketing talk. I figured we’d talk social media, blogs, and Book Bub. Instead we talked PASSION. We talked AUTHENTICITY. And the buzzing in my heart reignited, because the things Diana was talking about were things that I HAVEN’T been doing. For the last year (maybe two) I’ve been too busy focusing on numbers and branding and a zillion other things that don’t matter if you’ve got what Diana’s got. Passion. I’d lost my passion. My decision to not attend the retreat in 2013 was about my head, not my heart. My heart was hidden behind sales rankings and my number of Likes on Facebook.
And then came Cathy Maxwell’s farewell speech on Sunday morning. It all came crashing home for me. I hid it well, but I was in tears in the back row wondering how I’d let this happen. As Cathy said, I got in my own way. My definition of success was the WRONG one. I need to open my heart and mind and body and be PRESENT.
I spent the hour drive home with a tight throat and tears intermittently falling. I need my passion back. I need to redefine what success for ME looks like, and I need to stop looking at other writers and defining MY success based on theirs. I drove in my car and decided that I will define success if I make an emotional connection for my readers. I’ll write books that matter to me, and I hope to you. Don’t worry, they’ll still be hot and sexy, because I think passion matters.
Have you ever been hit with a message you didn’t even know you needed?