by Patricia Walters-Fischer
Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “Life is a promise, fulfill it.”
When that comes to being an artist, a writer, paying it forward is essential. In the grand scheme of things, artists must stick together and help each other advance in their prospective fields because so few others truly understand what we’re trying to do.
Case in point: when I attended the very first writer’s event, it happened to be a Merritt Conference. The Keynote Speaker was Sharon Sala, a well-known romance writer and agent Paige Wheeler would take pitches.
I planned to get there early, sit front and center so the agent would see me, recognize me from the crowd, because I’d written the best work of fiction since Austen.
Of course, I didn’t get there early and ended up at a table in the back. Discouraged, I started talking to the woman next to me about writing and general topics. She asked me if I would pitch that day and told me to practice on her. So I did.
The agent spoke and I knew she wouldn’t know my face from anyone else there that day.
It so happens, the agent sat at my table, directly across from me. And next to me? The Keynote Speaker.
Sharon Sala extended a hand to a novice writer when she didn’t have to. She gave me a quick coaching session on how to pitch, what to say, how to say it, and how to breathe and not pass out from anxiety.
I’ll never forget that.
And my pitch? Paige Wheeler asked for my first few chapters, but my writing was raw and needed a lot of work. Still, an act of random kindness encouraged me to keep trying, to keep hoping, to keep believing I could make it.
After many critique sessions and SARA meetings, I decided to go to the National Conference in Dallas. I didn’t have anything, but non-fiction published. Still, I knew I had more knowledge than when I’d started a few years before. I wanted to learn more, to see what possibilities were out there and what else I could achieve.
At the Wednesday luncheon, I sat with Joni Hahn and these two girls walked up to our table and asked if they could sit. Of course, we said yes. We learned they were sisters and could hardly contain their excitement at attending their first Nationals conference. They asked us how long we’d been writing. We all talked shop and saw each other several other times during the days to follow.
I stayed in touch. Asked them about their writing, encouraged them to continue, even if it sucked.
Last weekend, I saw one of the sisters. She’s now one of the editors of Romantic Times Magazine. She walked up to me and said, “Do you know, you were the first person I talked to at a National conference?”
We talked about that day, our successes both on the pages and in our personal lives. She adopted out of the foster care system like we’re trying to do. She offered encouragement and support. I told her I’d keep her posted and that I’d planned to write about it. She told me she wanted to see it when I did.
Not only did it all come full circle, I got to see Sharon Sala again and tell her thank you. I’d named a character in my book after her and she said that had never happened before.
Helping another artist at their craft may seem like an obvious thing to do, but there are many who don’t make the time to be gracious or grateful. A simple act of listening, encouraging, offering advice or simply asking about their works can make or break someone’s spirit.
It’s always the little things that help pay it forward.
So how will you pay it forward today?
Patricia Walters-Fischer : “Worth the Weight” 2009 Fab Five Women’s Fiction Winner, and Founder of Smart Cookie Parents–(www.smartcookieparents.com–Launch June 2012)