Experiencing the RWA2015 Convention in New York City was, as usual, a wonderful thing. I had a great time, met new people, and saw old friends from my previous Charlotte RWA Chapter; rubbed elbows with new authors and established authors, some of whom remembered me and congratulated my PRO status. It was, as my former middle school students would say, A W E S O M E! I was super excited, as well, about attending this convention with two published novels under my belt and looking forward to the workshops, the trade shows, the signings, and the general camaraderie you find in this venue. The only thing I wasn't keen on was returning to the Big Apple, where I had lived in for many years. Can't help it. I have one of those love/hate relationships with the city, where I can only resist it a few doses at a time, but, at least, I had the best traveling partner one can have, my sister Victoria Saccenti (whose novel is about to launch in September).
I was a bit apprehensive, as well. Not about the flight, or the accommodations, or the avalanche of women writers (and men. Yes. There are men in the RWA. As a matter of fact, there was a man nominated for the KOD's RWA chapter's DAPHNE awards!) which would be surrounding me. I was personally concerned about the new trend I had been experiencing with other author friends, and authors in general in the industry: the writing frenzy, the rush to not only write twenty thousand words in a day, but also to publish six to ten (sometimes even twenty) novellas and novels in a year, sometimes in half-a-year. I had felt the pressure to mimic, almost similar to witnessing neon signs the size and brightness of those in Times Square flashing: GET ON BOARD. RUSH! RUSH!! IF NOT, YOU WILL BE LEFT STANDING ALONE ON THE PLATFORM.
To say I was flabbergasted was to understate my concern. What was the rush? Trust me, I understand the need to get your work out there, if not, you don't earn much, especially as an Indie author. But my question always revolved around the why. Why the frenetic pace? What can be crafted in such a rush and done well? Personally, when I am on a roll, if I write five thousand words in a day, I am ecstatic! And, lately, some of the works I had read had many mistakes, oversights from editors and proofreaders with a rushed timeline, or no revisions to speak of. What product were we, as authors and professionals, sending out there? And, particularly, should I jump on the train, even when I felt uncomfortable about doing it?
Surprisingly enough, I received my answer with the first keynote speaker, author Barbara Freethy and the third, author Nalini Singh. And the theme was repeated over and over, with every presenter and keynote speaker I heard throughout all the workshops and conferences I attended: STOP. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Remember the craft, the telling of your story. Shape it. Hone it. Send out a perfectly faceted jewel so your readers follow you rather than a title.
TAKE YOUR TIME.
I am glad I was there. It was as if they had read my thoughts and had directed their comments directly at me. Maria Elena, don't rush. Don't forget you are a storyteller, the weaver of your dreams. Do it at your pace, at your timing, and do it well.
Please, don't get me wrong, some authors can write fast and come out with a very good product. I am not one of them. When I write, the characters and conflict drive the story. Those, in turn, shape the scenes, the dialogue. The setting, as well, drives the action. And it is work...hard work. Not easily crafted at all. Sweat and tears, literally, for me. Not like the comment I heard from one of the speakers, who nailed it for me: it's not as if you were writing an already rehearsed template you use over and over, changing names and setting, and then creating filler around them.
I can't write that way. I am glad those writers, with more than 20+ years of experience under their belts, validated my personal writing system. I am not here for the instant fame, the bragging rights to selling millions because I wrote twenty books in five years, although I WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT!!!
I can't write fast, period. And it is all right for me not to rush or get on that fast train. But more importantly, I am here to tell my stories the best way I can so that my readers share my fictive dream and follow me because they trust I will tell them a great story, no matter what genre, even if I can only give them a novel a year.