How lucky am I?
For months and months I've been getting e-mails from my local Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) about schmoozes they have for authors in the area. And for month and months, I've been too busy to go. Finally, I got the e-mail right when I had nothing on my schedule and could easily make it. And what's the topic of this get together of local writers? Jennifer Rofé, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency is coming for a living room chat.
The hour plus discussion with Jennifer and a handful of writers was informal and off the record, so it would be improper of me to get into details, but I don't think it's out of bounds to say that she is:
- Delightful, and
- Wonderfully blunt.
I wouldn't advise asking her for an opinion if you're not ready for a raw, honest answer. And believe me, that's refreshing here in Hollywood.
Blogs were mentioned as the evening broke up and Jennifer said to pass on her mantra about queries. MAKE THEM PROFESSIONAL. Of course, if you're reading this blog, then you probably know about AgentQuery Connect and have worked hard to have a professional letter, so no worries there ... right?
Something else she said that I think all writers—or, in fact, all people—should hear again and again.
Don't live your life in fear.
Jennifer was talking about writers who are afraid to do this-or-that, when in fact both this and that fall well within the realm of reasonable professional behavior. Say a writer meets an editor at a conference who invites the author to submit. "Should I?"
"What do I do?"
"Will this ruin my career!?!"
Don't live your life in fear. Do what your intelligent, professional gut tells you is right. Wars will not be started over your submission. There is no patient on the table waiting for brain surgery, so relax. Take it easy.
Of course, we hear this over and over again, but it always bears repeating. Go for the gusto. Live life like there is no tomorrow. Learn the rules, then break them. Enjoy yourself.
And I can't help but think, here we are, writers. Like gods, from nothing we create people that live in the minds of others. We turn blank paper into whole new worlds, and yet we're afraid to say hello to an agent at a conference.
Live life without fear.
Live life like the characters you create.
R.S. Mellette is an experienced screenwriter, actor, director, and novelist. You can find him at the Dances With Films festival blog, and on Twitter, or read him in the Spring Fevers anthology.