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Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Vote Against Isolationism

A few weeks ago I went to the annual RWA conference. I always enjoy attending the conference. There are so many people, so many interesting view points and personalities (and hair colors. One of these days I’ll get up the guts to dye my hair purple with you ladies). And this year I had an added reason to go, I got to spend some time in New York City. My old home. And eat my weight in pizza and bagels, which I have missed so much since I left (and believe me I got closer to that goal than any sane person should admit).

I love going to this conference for many reasons. I learn so much, I meet so many new people, and I also realize exactly how little I know. There are so many areas of the business I have no experience with or reference to, it’s really interesting to get the chance to see these other sides of this business I love. It’s also the only time all year that I really immerse myself in my writing life.  Its invigorating, and I come back renewed, refreshed, and ready to come back stronger.

One of the themes I kept hearing this year, was that if you aren’t cultivating new readers, you’ll fall behind.  That the only way to keep your audience level, let alone grow, is to be constantly extending yourself and trying to get in front of as many eyes as possible. The more I heard it, the more I realized this statement didn’t just relate to growing a readership. It’s a metaphor for how so many of us live.

How many of us have stayed in a place that wasn’t giving us what we needed because we were comfortable? I certainly have. I haven’t always pushed myself the way I should, socially, professionally, emotionally. Its easy to stay in the known. To let things happen around you because its easier to just go with the flow than to fight for more. To take that scary step out onto the ledge. 

But I also realize that by not pushing yourself for more, you can isolate yourself instead. It always hits me when I’m scanning the rooms and tables at RWA just how few people I know, how few people I interact with in my writing life. And I’m sure I’m not the only one at the conference thinking the same thought. This industry, and this world, can be very isolating. It is easy to stick to your lane, and not push beyond it. De facto putting yourself in a box. But isolation like that can never lead to happiness, or growth. It can only make your world smaller.

So I’m right here, right now, making a vote against isolationism. I’m going to make a point to be more active. To push myself harder. To step outside my comfort zone, and start asking for more. More friends, more relationships, more readers, more challenges, more connections, just more.

So who’s with me? Who wants to join me in asking for more? In preventing isolation from the world we love and standing out on that high ledge?

1 comment:

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Willa. And a wonderful goal. However, time is the factor. I barely have time to sleep and eat much less interact with people. I do online with author friends, but I still have to cut it short or I'd never get anything done.

As to schmoozing with readers. I'm a very private person and there is no way I am putting my life on FB for people to share, dissect, criticize, or whatever. The thought makes my skin crawl.

I often wonder how many male authors have to put their private lives out there to get readers? I haven't heard of any.

FB is forever. Post something you shouldn't and your career could be over. Or if you share your story ideas, someone else might run with it. Hell, there's more outright plagiarizing now then there ever has been.

I would hope that people would read my books because they're good and they satisfy. Not because I shared a divorce, bankruptcy, or whatever online.

I can't do it. My private life is mine.