”You realize you're never going to be invited to speak at this writer’s conference, right?”
We are peers, each of us learning the trade, and I felt more than a little bit dashed. Somehow even a complete stranger can speak into the likelihood of your dreams if you’re not careful. The thing is, I really, really, really would like to speak at that writing conference.
“Why?” I asked, somehow expecting her to have a very real and legit way to call me out on what I don’t know, what I’ll never know, why I’ll never qualify.
“Because your story is so unrealistic. Your success would give people false hope. It doesn’t happen that way.”
I mean, she has a point.
I feel crazy fortunate to have landed a major book deal with a major worldwide publishing house straight out of the gate, to have a readership who join me in the blogosphere every day, to have two books be so well received, to make a splash in my own corner of Amazon.com, and now to be hired as a contributing columnist for an online political magazine. My story and my entrance into the writing world are unique.
My wall isn't papered with rejection slips, but I’ve paid my dues in other ways. And, if I may say, a good idea can get you an invitation to the table, but you have to work your tail off to keep your seat.
I answered her. “You know, you’re right. I’ll be the first to agree that my story is a little unconventional and extraordinary. And it may look like it happened overnight, like my husband died and suddenly I became a writer. But really, I had already logged a thousand blog posts before Robb died. By the time I had a real and important story to tell, I had already established a daily discipline of doing what I loved. When publishers approached me about a book, I had one to give to them.”
Here is truth: If you know what you want to do, start learning about it now. Become an expert. You never know who will be looking for your unique expertise. When they ask for your work, have something to show.
* * *
“I will study and prepare, and perhaps my chance will come.”
~ Abraham Lincoln