Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guest Blogger Mary Connealy


A big thank you to Mary Connealy for guest blogging at OTWP today. You Rock, Mary!
If I knew then what I know now?

I am really an odd duck. I actually went to college and majored in, “Stop being so weird” and it came out … well… better, not great, but better.
The world famous SBSW degree, it’s under a Bachelor of Science. I was magna cum laude.
So, I learned to come out and play a little better in college. I was a journalism major, lots of writing, but I got sucked into radio and television, plenty of humiliation to go around there. But through all that I quit being quite such a troubled loner, like I was in high school. And it’s not even that I was such a troubled loner outwardly, but inside, where I really lived, all my reflexes are to just withdraw.

I once stepped into my church parlor during the coffee and fellowship time and didn’t see a seat by my mother (okay, I will suck my thumb and call her mommy for the remainder of this article) and I walked back out. I just had the impulse, this knee jerk reaction to throwing myself on the mercy of strangers, and it wasn’t even a choice, I found myself in the bathroom, semi-panicked, while I gave myself a pep talk. “Get back in there. This is as much your church as anyone’s. Stop being a twit.”
I also have a horror of going to high school sporting events. I just think, “Where’ll I sit?” “What if I walk up those long, long, high, endless bleachers only to find no seats or to sit by someone and have them wave me off.”
“You can’t sit here. This seat is saved…for someone who isn’t a major embarrassment.”
Anyway, no one actually has ever said that, but I am blessed with a vivid imagination. So I have no problem believing it could happen.

I had a point…let me think back….

Oh, yeah, if I knew then…well, I seemed to get my book published as slow as humanly possible. I know there are people who have been writing longer…but I consider myself to be a contender for the slowest possible march toward being on a bookstore shelf.
And I think the reason for that was that I didn’t get the community aspect of writing.
I heard a few people say, “It’s all who you know.” But what I didn’t figure out was how easy it was to get to know someone.
I didn’t even know RWA existed for the first two years I was writing. Then I found a chapter in Omaha…an hour and a half drive away and went a few times, but it wasn’t easy, and YIKES, walk into a room full of strangers. Just kill me now.

Then about three years after that I discovered ACFW. ACFW was in an RWA magazine. And it took me two years after that to work up the nerve to go to a conference, and I had some critique partners through ACFW that practically DRAGGED me there. And only after I finalled with two books did I seriously consider it. Erica here: for clarity's sake, Finalled in the ACFW's Genesis Contest for Unpublished Writers.

I joined CAN. I met Erica through CAN, the Christian authors network, right Erica? Erica here: Yup, it was my first ever booksigning too...I wondered what one did when one attended a book signing of famous authors...would anyone talk to me? You came to a CAN book signing and we had the same agent. And she was so nice to me. It was my first book signing ever and real authors were there like Jill Nelson and Susan May Warren and Judy Baer. Erica talked to me when no one else would and patted me on the head and gave me a sucker to keep me quiet while the real authors talked.

I just made every choice as slowly and painfully as humanly possible.

So, the thing I know now, that I wish I’d known earlier was to get connected. If it’s really ‘who you know’ then for heaven’s sake get to know someone.
Think of it as stepping out in faith.
Casting your bread upon the waters.
Whom shall I fear.
Or-in less Biblical terms—think of it as getting over yourself.
Getting a life.
Hunt up a backbone and use it.
However you want to describe it, come on out from behind that keyboard…and get connected.
Mary Connealy PhD in SBSW
Super big thanks to Mary for guest-blogging. Don't forget to run over to Amazon.com or your local bookseller and get a copy of Gingham Mountain...and the other Lassoed in Texas books too!

8 comments:

  1. Great post! Us introverts have to stick together ;)

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  2. Fear of rejection is one of those things that grab us by the throat. All of us. And I couldn't agree more about the wonderful community of ACFW. I love that you were in awe of the "real" authors, and trust me on this--there are some of us out here who are in awe of you, sweet Mary.
    Lovely post.

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  3. Mary's advice isn't just for authors.

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  4. Hi, Georgiana. You're shy? I never got that when I met you. Of course I was hiding behind a palm tree at the time.

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  5. Carla, meeting you and Denice in Minneapolis is a highlight. I had such a great time with you both.

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  6. Hi, CJ. I suppose you're right. Part of being an introvert (okay...troubled loner...whatever you want to call me) is obsessing about yourself I suppose.

    Thinking of your own discomfort and potential humiliation. It's actually pretty selfish in a way.

    Wow, now I feel even worse to realize I'm selfish.

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  7. This is why we are writers. We are a strange breed. Do you think everyone can write? Nooooooooooo.

    I made a friend in high school go through the lunch line and buy my lunch for me--all year. I was too embarrassed to get in front of the cafeteria.

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  8. Tina, this is a side of you I've never seen.

    I like it. :)

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