Why Pay It Forward?

Newton's Cradle

I’m getting ready to go to the seventh annual Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University tomorrow … an event I look forward to every year. Over the years I’ve found it a great way to bone up on the basics of the business, while I network with other writers and industry professionals.

Oakland University Campus
Early Fall on the Oakland University Campus, Rochester, Michigan
Rochester Writers
The Seventh Annual
Rochester Writers’ Conference
Saturday, October 3, 2014
Oakland University

A good conference, which this one always proves to be, can offer an interesting inside look at the craft of writing.

In fact, if you’re a newbie, or just new to writing conferences, I suggest you start with a smaller, local conference like this. It’s less expensive and much less intimidating than big, national multi-day events, but you can still make vital connections.

As much as I may think I know, I learn something every year. You may only occasionally meet a literary agent but, and probably more importantly, you get to network with other local authors.

But I won’t lie to you; it can be an exhausting experience. There are a lot of choices to make and a lot of ground to cover in a day.

Good Writing is Hard Work
Good writing is very hard work, but the journey is worth it. Why do I say that? Well, the answer could be as simple as “writers write.”

Every fiction author I’ve ever met says pretty much the same thing. They all write to tell a story, make an esoteric point, chronicle an era or expound on an event. Some say they actually write to please their readers.

But I think they really write for the same reason I do … the joy of the writing process itself.

It’s for those almost mystical and ethereal moments when the all the hard work you put in finally allows the muse to spit a few words from your brain onto the page … in the process creating something exciting and new.

Publishing Has Changed
Publishing has produced its own exciting, dynamic story arc since I first submitted a story for consideration … way back when I was seventeen (to give yourself some idea of just how long ago that was, think pterodactyls).

Back then, except for the monthly magazines that bought a lot of fiction, we all knew that in order to be published in a book, you had to pitch a traditional publisher.

After I decided (much to my sweet bride’s dismay) to take an early retirement from my nine-to-whenever corporate marketing job, I thought, OK, pitch to a publisher, that’s writing, too … I can do that. How hard can it be?

Of course, I soon discovered that in order for that to happen I first had to secure an agent, since no large publisher would deign to talk to me without one.

However, at my age, finding an agent willing to take a chance on my writing was tough. I suspect every one I contacted really wanted to find an erudite thirty-something with many, many years of writing time ahead of him.

They probably didn’t see me fitting into their picture of a nice, long, sustained collaboration. Which was ultimately fine with me because, conversely, I didn’t feel like I had the time to search for someone who would.

Since self-publishing was quickly becoming the new pathway for getting noticed, as good, entrepreneurial indie authors made ever more assured strides in the marketplace, I decided to join them. I became a published indie author.

Once I made up my mind I was an indie, my path was set. Good things have followed, and I don’t regret it.

But why a conference?

You Will Get Energized
The real answer is why the hell not? It may sound like an obvious statement, but where else can you meet so many people at varying stages in their writing careers?

I find that writers, as a group, are very supportive. If you sit at tables with people you don’t know and make an effort to say hello, it’s easy to meet others who are not only willing to talk, but are willing to offer help and advice for any problems you encounter.

It’s one of the reasons I write this blog in the first place.

Call it paying it forward. I’ve already met others who’ve been there before and who were ready to go out of their way to help me as I tried to figure out some of the rough spots, so why shouldn’t I pass it along to everyone I can?

Besides, there’s nothing more infectious than a bunch of people all excited about the same thing.

My brother-in-law, whom I affectionately call Little Brother, does it with his buddies and baseball. I go to a writing conference with an ear to listen, because I guarantee there will be speakers who seem to be talking directly to me.

You might attend a session on how to query an editor, create dynamic characters, or even self-publish; or how to effectively use social media, as I’ve talked about here so often.

You might even find one on exactly how to pitch to that publisher you’ve been salivating over … and those sessions can be just as interesting as college classes. Sometimes even better.

The only difference … there are no tests … and everyone wins.

Excited now? I am. I can hardly wait for tomorrow!


You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered. 


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2 Responses to “Why Pay It Forward?”

  1. Ron Herron Says:

    It was a good conference. Took home a couple of prizes for “micro” and “flash” fiction (under 500 and under 100 words). Enjoyed the day. 🙂


  2. James Sloan Says:

    Good luck…. Hope it is a win/win for you!!!! Jes

    Sent from my iPhone


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