My first nationally published article was on hairballs. You know, those wet and tangled clumps of fur that the cat hacks up at the foot of your bed every time you try to have sex.
Granted, that was 11 years ago. But for a long time, I was really proud of that story. I was also proud of the ones that I did on feline dental health and internal and external parasites (I’m something of an expert on hookworms) but nowadays, I don’t necessarily put them at the top of my resume.
Why? Because—and I have been dying to shout this out ever since I attended the Maui Writer’s Conference over Labor Day weekend–I have been published hundreds and hundreds of times since then.
That being said, I still felt like a puny guppy in the ocean during the conference. Well, except for the time when I was listening to the amazing and inspiring Lisa Nichols (from The Secret). Then I felt like Wonder Woman. But for the most part, there were just so many writers milling around–talking loudly about their projects—that I felt insignificant.
Yeah, yeah, I know. They call it networking. In fact, my husband–who fronted the $1,200 for the conference and hotel room—constantly reminded me that this whole talking to other writers thing was part of what we (he) paid for. I think he broke it down to something like my needing to make 79 really excellent career-boosting connections in order for his investment to be worth it.
I didn’t make goal, but I did learn a lot. And overall I feel that the experience was more than worth having to endure a diet of spam and rice for the next six months.
I went for two reasons. First, I write everyday, and I want to be better and more efficient. Second, I kinda wrote a novel that kinda sucks.
Now this is where Lisa Nichols would come in and say, “Girlfriend, if you want your novel to suck, you keep telling everyone it does. The universe won’t make you no liar!”
Okay, so my novel is really hilarious and I’m going to become a millionaire off of it, and then I will have 30,007 friends on MySpace, my publisher will give me a $20,000-a-year raise, my husband will sport fabulous abs, my boobs will be perky, my ass will be firm and the kids will go to bed at 6:30 every night without a fuss. Oh, and a very unattractive but hardworking live-in maid will appear in my home.
Over the weekend, I learned how to use steno books to “allow a non-fiction book to write itself” and got praised for my novel’s apparently most excellent first page. I promise that the following 286 will be just as good as soon as I find the time to completely rewrite them.
The highlight occurred when a senior editor from a major publishing house asked if she could take my synopsis back to New York with her because she might know someone who would be interested in it. To recap: the words “publishing house,” “New York” and “interested” all did just appear in the same sentence.
And I didn’t even have to grovel or offer weird gifts of organ donations or first-born children. Although, you know, I would if I had to.
Starr Begley is way better than novelist John Saul and his hecklers thought she was. MTW