I am a very lucky person. I get to do what I love for a living. For that, I owe you all a huge nod of thanks. Along the way, I have learned a great deal by trial and error. I am actually celebrating a bit of a milestone as Zomblog (my first published book) was completed in October of 2009. Along the way. I have learned that there are some folks out there who think nothing of stopping and reaching out a helping hand to those trying to catch up. I have also learned that there are a hefty amount of wingnut lunatics out there. Funny, but the former are writers who are entrenched in Top 100 and Top 10 lists on Amazon as well as TBR lists from bloggers and fans of whatever particular genre that they reside. The latter...mostly anonymous, obscure, and only known in whatever dingy corners they slink around in.
So, what have I really learned in these first few years of chasing my dream? I have learned that you have to keep a constant guard on your tongue...one out of school comment can bring serious backlash. I also learned that there IS such a thing as bad publicity. Case in point, there was a writer who was notorious for just running off at the mouth at the drop of a hat. This person had no lack of opinions, and if you were at odds with this particular whack job, then you were blasted both overtly and covertly by this person. However, the writing world is actually a relatively small community, and folks talk. Stories get compared, and now, the only people who listen to that writer are the ones too kind to cut ties and fellow wingnuts...so...yeah, a pretty minute circle.
At the opposite end, (and I will keep the good people just as anonymous) I have met some true A-list types. Many of you recall how one fellow author who I had never met in person helped with my daughter several months back. I have also had steadfast support from so many that I can't list their names or the deeds lest my blog become the length of War & Peace. However, for me, those who have stood at my side with kind words and comfort will probably never realize just how big the impact of their actions have been in my life. For somebody who has done prison time, you come out with a feeling that society will never accept you. You believe the hype about being an outcast and unacceptable. Yet, the kindness and support I have been shown is something that I will be able to use in my message when I return to Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution as a speaker.
So, my "lesson learned" after the first few years is simple. If you want to make your way out of the Sea of Obscurity, act like a professional. What does that mean to me? Work hard. Do not give up. Mind your manners. If you can't say something nice, just shut up. (Besides, some other wingnut will probably blast the person who has your feathers ruffled anyway...it is always interesting to see that look of surprise when a wingnut gets the proverbial "punch in the throat" and then looks around with a "why me?" face or comes crying to their dwindling support group...ummm, maybe because you can't ever shut your mouth?) And perhaps the most important, always be willing to take a moment to lend a hand or answer a question that is posed to you from an up-and-comer seeking advice (that is WAY different from offering it when it is NOT asked for BTW). It really does not take that long to answer a simple question, and besides, that person may take off as a writer and send his or her thanks your way.