How to describe the last two days.
Well, for starters, it was short and fast. Which kinda sucked.
It was also SO worth the short trip. I took a lot away from it.
First of all, I've been attempting to put together a proposal for a book, blindly. I knew it was a hot mess when I brought it, but couldn't put my finger on why it was a hot mess. Well, I know now. I also found out that my idea for the book is a good one, I just need to structure it correctly. I really need to get over the big, skanky wall that seems to pop up every time I try to sit down and write. My life sucked at times, and it makes it really difficult to write about. I need to get over it.
I feel I have the tools and connections to do so now. For that, I'm forever grateful.
Not only did I learn a lot, but I met many inpsiring, amazing women. I'm still a little in shock by all of the stories. I've been to military related "events" and have met military wives, caregivers, and widows after only meeting them on the internet, but never normal people - whatever that means. I have to say, it was kind of intimidating at first. I went into this thing sort of blindly.
For example, they told us to bring business cards, right? Well, I decided I didn't need a business card for my blog. I just felt like it was odd. I felt like I would look like a douche like, "Heeey, I'm Karie and I have this blog. Here's my card. Check it out." *wink wink*
I'm an idiot.
I learned that, when networking, always have cards. Even if it just has your name, your face, and your email. It's the easiest way for people to get your information, plain and simple.
I will never make this mistake again.
Luckily, I was able to have some, I felt, really great conversations with some of the ladies. I am confident we will be able to keep in touch regardless of my lack-o-card, which makes me happy. THANK YOU TWITTER! (I think this is the first trip that I've found the real significance of Twitter, too. Finally.)
I must say, of all the events I've been to, my favorite thing about them all are the friendships I walk away with. This is why I step out of my comfort zone time and time again. Is flying into NYC from Alabama all alone completely terrifying? Pretty much. But it's sooo worth it!
And yes, there is more. Not only did I learn how to improve my own project and make new friends, but I got to actually see and meet real authors, agents, and publishers.
Here's the thing. Beyond the fact that it's just flat out intimidating, it's also so amazing to see these people in "real life". I think sometimes I forget that behind the book and behind the computer screen, there are real, live people just like you and me! That not clicking in my little brain was sort of a block for me, I think. They had a session where they had three authors - Jean Kwok, Ann Napolitano, and Kathy Cano-Murillo. I loved this part! The reason being, I realized they aren't some literary freaks of nature that have magical powers to put together massive and amazing novels over night without having to change a single word. Not at all, in fact. In the first draft of Jean's book, Girl In Translation, she had to scrap 350 pages and completely rewrite them. I mean... whoa. I wanted to stand up and start rooting. Seriously, a weight lifted. I mean, I'm sure that was terrible for her, but it makes her human. Thank god. It's OK to have to rewrite. Then Kathy started as a craft blogger, turned craft book author, turned fiction novelist! She just decided one day she wanted to write a novel after a couple of craft books and she just - did it. The first draft, in her words (which I obviously love) were a hot mess. Yet, they took the hot mess, they revised it, they revised it again, and now it's published. Her second novel is now in the works. Ann - Ann wrote two novels when she was younger, the second of which was published but still failed. After spending seven years writing her last novel, A Good Hard Look, she finally found success! Though, writing any novel, published or not, seems like a success to me. Still, all three of these Authors stories show that it's not just waking up one morning with a spectacular idea, putting it on paper, and a week later having a beautiful, published book in your hand with your name on it. It takes years, and it takes work, and it takes patience, and it may take rewriting a gagillion times before you finally get it right - and that's ok.
And that reminds me of another thing I learned thanks to the amazing Dominique Browning. I learned that, just because I didn't go to school to learn to write, I do write. Because I write, I'm a writer. Though I can't help but compare myself to the successes that I met yesterday and feel slightly embarrassed to put the same label on myself. Yet, it gives me confidence. In the end, It's ok if I'm not the best writer - I'm still a writer, and I want to write a book. So I'm going to, in her words, "just write"- at my own pace and in my own way and hopefully with a little help along the way if I keep finding really nice people willing to.
Needless to say, I'm stoked. I feel I am sane because of three things - My friends, my family, and my writing. If I didn't have one of those things, I'd probably be a blob on the ground. Because they saved me, I am passionate about all three of them. It's very nice to have been able to explore the one passion I have that I really hadn't been able to yet. I plan to make writing a part of my future in one way or another, wether through journalism, through books, or just through blogs.
On that note, thank you so much to everyone, and I mean everyone, at Blogher.com for putting this together. You guys are so freakin' awesome! Thank you so, so much to Penguin Publishing for totally hooking us up with some killer information, particularly Rebecca Hunt for being my groups "mentor". Though you originally pretty much intimidated the crap out of me, your honesty was much appreciated and so freaking helpful. Like... I want to kiss you a little. Thank you to all the ladies that were in my mentoring group. All of your stories were so inspiring. Thank you to my awesome roommate, Shannon. I'm so glad you aren't a rapist. Thank you to all the ladies I had dinner with. I'm so glad I got to meet you guys and hear your stories even though it was so brief. Thank you my new friend and adorable Southern Bell, Kara. I hope we get to meet up sometime soon! You're too close not to! Last but not least, thanks Mrs. P for being my widda back up. It's hard being the only widow in a room full of women, and that wasn't the case thanks to you!