My legs trembled as I made my way up the sidewalk to the door of the strange house. I hesitated, swallowing hard, glancing around me, grasped my clipboard a little tighter, and knocked, praying fervently no one would answer. Then again, if I didn’t want anyone to answer, why was I there?
I was there because I believed in a cause. I fervently believed in this petition for Humane Care that I was bringing around to houses, which is why I had traveled from Minnesota to Nebraska to help with it. It meant doing something I was vastly uncomfortable with. Walking up to strangers, explaining an amendment to them, and asking them to sign it.
Made the more difficult because the opposition had run ads saying the organization was flying in professional petitioners who were being paid obscene amounts and didn’t actually care. I was being paid by signature—but I hadn’t known that until I arrived—and I would have gladly done it for free. But people didn’t care about that. I dealt with people who were already prejudiced against me, people who were glad I was there, people who swore at me despite my young age, people who were only angry that someone was “soliciting” them, and dogs that had no self-control, turning me from someone who was apathetic towards dogs to actively disliking them.
That first day, I thought I was going to throw up when I approached each and every house. But I believed in the outcome of what I was doing, so I forced my legs to do it. By the end of the week, I hated it just as much, but I had learned to swallow before I went up the sidewalk, stuff the nerves deep down inside, and smile widely no matter my feelings. And my teammates had nicknamed me Code Red. So called for the Mountain Dew Code Red I loved to drink at lunch, and my determined attitude.
I learned that day that no matter how much you hate something, if you believe in the outcome of what you are doing, you can get through it.
I never did write much about the writer’s conference I attended, did I? I learned so much, that it felt a little overwhelming to try and share it all. But, I did want to mention probably the biggest thing I learned – and if I’ve mentioned this in previous posts and forgot, I apologize.
But that biggest thing is article writing.
What? Article writing?
See. I imagined the life of a writer something like this:
Wake up. Dive straight into writing your stories. If you get writer’s block, go for a romantic walk, and refresh yourself. Come back. Write some more. Occasionally take breaks to query agents and submit stories. Cry with delight when your stories are accepted.
Well, apparently that isn’t quite the case. Because I met all kinds of writers at the conference, and the thing that struck me was that apparently they spend a lot of their time on marketing (which I’ve already complained about extensively), speaking engagements (yuk!), and writing articles! In fact, some of them claimed that, despite having several books out, most of their money is made from writing articles!
What kind of articles? Well, all kinds. A lot write devotionals for various places, and a lot write articles based on their current books. So, for instance, if someone is writing a novel that involves someone with cancer, they might write articles on caring for cancer patients, or making it through treatments, or things like that, thereby making money through articles and providing an opportunity to market their book at the same time.
It was mind-boggling. Not only the ideas for different types of articles to write, but the realization that even “real” writers have to find a way other than just stories to actually make their bills.
This has set off a mental dilemma within me. Clearly, I also have to consider this article-writing strategy. After conversing with other writers on this, they recommended I try devotionals and articles on security, since security is my background.
I spent a day earlier this week* researching places to which I could submit articles, and feel like I’ve done enough work for a lifetime. Clearly just doing the research is good enough, right? I don’t actually have to write these things?
Okay, okay, I’m just kidding. Mostly. But it did make me wonder. You know, in Castle, it just shows him doing research and writing—nothing else. In older novels about writers, it just talks about writing stories, submitting them, and experiencing rejection until they get accepted. Was it just easier to get published back then, or was it too boring to write about the daily necessities of surviving until something was published? Is there ever a point at which a writer makes enough that they don’t have to worry about anything other than writing what they want?
I know, I just did that big post on the small, nitty, gritty steps on the way up the Alpine path, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I still have those days where I REALLY want to work my way around it, because, I’m sorry, writing articles sound perfectly boring.
Then again, there’s a little part of me that wonders if I’ll discover I like it. Accomplishing little pieces of work that don’t take nearly as much time as a book, and are more likely to be published than a short story. Not only the feeling of success but, at least in the case of devotions, the possibility of inserting a drop of hope into someone’s life? After all, isn’t that what I’m about? Just because I prefer writing fiction doesn’t mean God might not have other plans for me as well
So, I guess next steps include opening my heart to whatever God has planned, fiction or non-fiction.
After all, I learned long ago that the outcome can be worth the steps in between, no matter how difficult.
*August 21, 2020