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This post is two days early because I’ll be spending Saturday at the Longview Literary Festival in Lee's Summit, MO.
The Longview Lit Fest is an annual gathering of authors, publishers, and anyone else interested in writing and publishing. I attended my first Lit Fest last year, and it changed my life. For one thing, this blog wouldn’t exist without it.
In the fall of 2010, I was just beginning to work on an idea for a YA story. I had spent much of the previous two years writing a novel that went nowhere, so I was reluctant to commit to writing another novel. I had leaned of the Longview Lit Fest through a writing group I was part of, and the dates coincided with fall break at the college where I teach, so I thought it would be a good idea to attend, sit in on some presentations, and maybe interact with other authors who are trying to accomplish the same thing I am (namely, get published!).
The festival featured presentations by both published and unpublished authors, and a chance to talk with professionals in the field. All of that was valuable and eye-opening to me. But that’s not why the festival changed my life.
While there, I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in over ten years – someone who, when last I saw her, didn’t write fiction and had no aspirations (to my knowledge) to be a published author. But now, not only was she writing two children’s books of her own, she had joined The Kansas City Writers Meetup. She regaled me with stories of her critiquing group, which met Monday evenings at a local coffee shop.
I was already a member of two critiquing groups and, though I learned a lot from both of them, my participation was winding down for various reasons. I was thus hesitant to commit to another group. But when you run into someone you haven't seen in a decade in the unlikeliest of places and you find this person actively pursuing the same goals you are . . . I've never placed much stock in "signs" appearing out of nowhere, directing people where to go, but I haven't ruled out the possibility of signs, either.
Bottom line: I joined the KCWM and was invited into my friend's Monday night critiquing group.
Flash forward a year later. I am now the co-facilitator of that same group, along with Dennis Young (who was also at the Longview Lit Fest last year). I've written two complete drafts of my YA novel – the novel I was hesitant to write in the first place. I've met a number of wonderful writers whose feedback and fellowship I've come to appreciate.
And I started this blog – a direct result of a KCWM presentation given by Kristi Bernard, who sold me on the necessity of creating a social networking platform.
On top of that, I'm launching Three Rabbits Publishing, an author promotions/online publishing business with the self-same Kristi Bernard and K.P. Kollenborn, two outstanding authors I met through KCWM.
All because I attended the Longview Literary Festival last year.
The moral of this story? Step out in faith. You never know where it's going to take you.
I still have a long way to go before I publish my novel, but I've got a lot more options than I did a year ago. More, I've got a sense of direction and a supportive network of fellow writers who share the same or similar goals. And, because of all of that, I'm a lot happier than I was a year ago.
So, if you happen to be in the Kansas City area this Friday and Saturday, stop by the Longview Literary Festival. You never know what might happen.
The Longview Literary Festival runs from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mel Aytes Education Center, 500 S.W. Longview Rd., Lee's Summit, MO. I’ll only be there on Saturday due to other commitments. But if you're there, say hi.
Congratulations Greg on all of your accomplishments in this past year. It does pay off to follow your dreams and take a leap of faith in yourself and others. The hardest part of all of it, is taking the first steps. I am so glad that I have met you and am able to work with you and Erin in regards to Three Rabbits Publishing. I am not sure I can make it to the Lit Fest, have to work, but I know you will gain more knowledge and make new friends by attending. Good luck to you and your YA novel. It's a wonderful story boys and girls will love.
Greg, ditto to parts of Kristi's comment. You have a great year to look back on - one in which you have taken some big steps with your writing and connecting with others of similar tastes. I, for one, am grateful to have crossed your path and benefited from your writing insights.
This is a wonderful, insightful reflection. It is taking that "leap of faith" and discovering what we as artists and human beings can accomplish by simply make that first leap. Then another. Then another. Soon, a trail of accomplishments has been left behind. So glad to see a written testament about your experiences and hopefully inspiring to another.
Kristi - You're right: The first steps are usually the hardest to take. I'd like to say that later steps get easier, but (in my experience) they do not. But what increases is confidence and a willingness to embrace uncertainty and mystery.
Dave - It has truly been a phenomenal year. The best part has been getting to know you, Kristi, Erin, and others! So, backatcha!
K.P. - Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes it's hard to know if anything's changing at all when we take those leaps of faith. It's only when we look back that we realize how far we've come.
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