Two days ago, I got to attend something called a SCHMOOZER, a networking get-together hosted by the Quebec Writer’s Federation at a pier-side bistro in the gorgeous Old Port of Montreal.
Now, I’m not big on showing up to these things on my own, you know, sauntering through the doors and not giving two flying forks that no one knows me from Eve. So, in order to go, I had to latch myself to another writer. Luckily, new friend and fellow writer, Su Sokol, was happy to oblige. Thanks, Su!
We strolled up to the gathering of writers, editors, budding lit agents, translators, QWF staff, etc. in the sweltering heat and humidity (Montreal has lovely summers but I swear its humidity was concocted by demons in the deepest, darkest pit in hell and consequently unleashed on our poor, unsuspecting island) and promptly had a swell time. Everyone was nice and chatty and, because it was a networking activity, it wasn’t weird to talk about myself or my book or my blog, and even less so when I whipped out my new business card–Wham!–and tucked it into the hand of whoever I was speaking with. It was invigorating!
Thanks to my husband who did a fab job!
I’ve written a lot about my writing experiences and projects on this blog and in guest blogs, messaged and emailed friends on the subject, and participated in interviews and blog hops and author features, all of which are great. Doing this kind of stuff is a great way to connect with a broad audience. Also, thinking about writing and then organizing those thoughts in order to compose an article, for example, are great ways to improve. In fact, I believe doing these things have gone a long way in terms of helping me produce pieces that are easy to read and, hopefully, well-thought out. If nothing else, it’s given me the confidence to believe I can write other things besides stories—something I wasn’t sure about when I started blogging.
That said, having to look someone in the face and talk about my book was tough. Not because I didn’t know what I was talking about but because knowing how to do it in a way that avoided causing my listener’s eyes from glazing over stressed me out.
Case in point: The first person who asked about my book…well, it didn’t go so good. In fact, it was one big fat, FAIL. I felt so much pressure to present my book in a unique and interesting way, in other words different from the 6 billion other books on the market, that I could barely string a sentence together, let alone anything that sounded convincing. Did I mention that I was surrounded by people who had published with well-known publishing houses and others who had won awards or had some amount of recognition for their books?
But as the evening wound down and with a Smirnoff Ice mellowing in my stomach, I began to relax. I chatted, smiled, and learned about the people around me and about their writing experiences and challenges. I discovered that, in a lot of ways, we were in the same boat. Hate marketing? Yep. Frustrated by how much time the business side takes away from writing. Oh, yeah. Wish you could write full-time but stuck having to work a day job? Oh, yeah! Finally, long after the event was done, a few of us stuck around to chat and a writer (Hi Veena, if you’re reading!) asked me about my book. I didn’t stress about any of the stuff I had before. Instead, I talked about what The Purple Morrow meant to me and that’s when the words started to roll. There aren’t many unique stories out there, but talking about Morrow’s essence and its themes and how they became the story worked. I felt like my listener actually listened.
Anyway, I’m glad I attended. It was a great opportunity to meet some great people while practicing becoming comfortable talking about myself and my work. I’d been looking for a place in the Montreal writing scene for a while and, after four years or so, it looks like I might have got my toe in the door. In September the main activities like workshops and mentorships will start up and I hope to explore those too. So stay tuned as I venture deeper into the realm of the Montreal writing scene since I will most definitely be blogging about it. 🙂