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G is for gratitude

August 3, 2012

Blogger’s Note: Like many other bloggers, I am taking the alphabet challenge. Unlike most of them, I’m not doing it every day. As I think of things, I’ll advance a letter in the alphabet. Unlike most of them I’m also hoping not to skip the hard letters like X and Z.

A writer friend of mine once offered to read and critique my entire manuscript. This wasn’t someone I shared a critique group with. It was a published author with a life, a family, and a career as a writer. It was among the most generous things anyone has ever done for me.

As much as we like to hold onto the Hemingwayesque picture of a writer, a keyboard, and a bunch of a favorite beverage, writing isn’t a solitary accomplishment. When you achieve your goals, its because you worked your tail off, and a lot of other people helped. That’s why you never see an acknowledgments section in a book with a self-portrait of the author. (Though there are rumors Donald Trump considered it.)

It’s not just published authors who get help on a daily basis. From the time you walk into your first critique group or attend your first conference, or read any number of free, high-quality resources on the web, you’re getting a lot of free help moving your writing forward.

Wait a minute, I just wrote the check for the conference. It ain’t free.

You’re right, it’s not. But the people who spend tons or hours putting it together and volunteering to work the conference aren’t paid for their time. Depending on the conference, they may attend for free, but they aren’t sitting in the conference sessions, either. They’re typically running around making sure everything runs smoothly. They’re fetching the agent who didn’t know he had an appointment at 2:45 or figuring out what to do because the hotel’s AV system doesn’t hook up with Macs. They’re volunteers, so they know the gig when they get it, but their time and energy is free.

For most contests, the administrator and any helpers are volunteers, as are the judges. And if you attend a writers group meeting, the person finding the speakers, and the speakers themselves don’t get paid, either.

All of this adds up to a lot of free stuff for your taking just because you’re a writer. I hate to sound like your mom, but you should be grateful.

(I had to walk to my writers group meetings when I was a kid, and we couldn’t afford shoes. I had to walk in bare feet–when I could afford feet. Up hill. Both ways. And by damn, I was grateful!)

So pay it forward. And from me to all the people who helped me get where I am today, thank you.

  1. August 3, 2012 10:41 am

    I’m so grateful for finding the FWA. No, wait, I’m grateful for the people of the FWA. No, wait, I’m grateful to Jamie Morris, MaryAnn MAD, you, Chris H, the friends I’ve made at the FWA conference, the volunteers, agents and Chef Rob at the Lake Mary Marriott…Happy Friday!

  2. Chris Hamilton permalink
    August 3, 2012 1:26 pm

    Well, you kind of have to mention Chef Rob. And thanks for the nice mention. Hope you can make it this year.

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