Last month I attended RWA’s National Convention in Reno, Nevada, as a newly published author. The coveted pink ribbon hung from my name badge as a source of pride, and I couldn’t help but smile each and every time someone congratulated me on my first sale. How could I not? This was my sixth conference and with every one, I’d done the same – congratulated those who’ve managed to claw their way into the publishing world by way of hard work, determination and perseverance.
But this year was different, no doubt about it. Instead of workshops, I attended my first private author party with my Superromance buddies, spent a nerve-wracking hour chatting one on one with my editors, lunched with the editors and their other newly bought authors, and danced Friday night away at the Harlequin/Silhouette Party at the Peppermill. Can I remember every detail? Sort of-factor in exhaustion, nerves and awe and you’ll understand why some things are a little fuzzy. But what I do remember is the welcoming warmth and sisterhood given to me so freely by so many people.
In her luncheon speech Debbie Macomber spoke of her first experiences with the publishing world, that of being told by someone to “throw it (her manuscript) away” and how this statement by a publishing professional nearly devastated her. She also spoke of an author commenting on how the majority of attendees would not make it in the publishing world, and how shocked she was to hear this person voice such a dooming outlook aloud.
But then she said something else. She related how she’d asked that person who should be discouraged the way she had been because how would anyone know who will stick with writing and give it their all? How do we know who will be the next person wearing that pink ribbon with such pride? What if Debbie Macomber had taken that horrible statement to heart? What if she’d tossed her manuscript away and never written another word?
In contrast to Debbie’s story I’ve been supported, year after year, by my RWA sisters and brothers, told to keep at it, and offered shoulders to lean on if things get out of sorts and I become frazzled by the many demands made on a writer’s time. The pride I carried with me by wearing that pink ribbon wasn’t only the pride I felt at having finally “made it” as depicted by the Steve Winwood song played by Harlequin/Silhouette’s DJ, it was the pride of those people – my fellow RWAers – who viewed my success as an extension of their own. Yes, I made it. But I didn’t make it alone.
For those of you reading this and trying so hard to see your name in print – for all of you who congratulated me or any one of the other newbies wearing pink ribbons – thank you. If you have that selfless, giving attitude in your heart for your fellow writers, it will show in your work and you should wear it with pride.
“I’m so glad we made it.”
Kay Stockham pursued her dream of publication for nearly six years before selling her seventh completed manuscript to Harlequin Superromance. Montana Secrets is an October, 2005 release.