Networking is an important part of publishing. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. I’m away attending the Florida Writer’s Association Annual Conference (#FWA2014!), and networking here is more important than I ever realized. To be clear, I mean this as more than just meeting people that are interested in my work. Meeting those people is happening, and its an amazingly cool thing. I’d like to share a different take on networking, though.
If you know me personally or you’ve been following my writing for a while, you know that I love poetry and literary nonfiction, and I’ve been writing and studying in those genres exclusively for a long time. Fiction was a thing that happened in my life for a while before I realized my stories were all thinly veiled nonfiction that I didn’t know what to do with at the time. This conference, though, is full of writers and literary agents/publishers of all kinds, and I’m definitely the minority here in terms of focus.
The majority is a crowd of people making a living writing things like romance or fantasy. I’ve been so far removed from this kind of writing that my jaw dropped on Thursday when I met the first of many full-time writers I’d spend time networking with here. When he told me he self publishes and supports an entire family on the money, I was more than shocked. Stupefied, maybe. I’ve been working in my cloud of “literary” publishing and teaching for such a long time that I’m embarrassed to admit I convinced myself these people didn’t exist.
They definitely proved me wrong as the weekend went on, and I plan on continuing to learn from them until I leave for home on Sunday. For the most part, they’re writing what they love and aren’t making compromises in terms of the integrity of their writing, which is pretty much my honor code when it comes to this field.
You know what? I’d love to write a fantasy novel. I’d love to do a whole bunch of other stuff too. What’s cool is that I’ve met a ton of people here that have inspired me to do that. Sure, the kind of networking I’m supposed to be doing (meeting agents and editors) happened, and I’m not trashing that in the slightest. But I definitely value the other kind of networking–the kind where I met completely different writers modeling different paths for me that I had never considered applicable to my life.
If one of you is reading this, you’re amazing!
(If anyone out there is reading this, you’re amazing too!)