This cycle at GBC we're discussing the author in public forums. As has been noted in the comments of Maria Geraci's brilliant post - by me! - public speaking tops the list of human fears, up there ahead of death and spiders. So when the amazing writing forum Backspace asked me to deliver the keynote speech at their 2012 conference, I was immediately both flattered and panic-stricken; the former, because previously they typically had publishing icons like literary agent Donald Maass or bestselling authors like David Morrell give these speeches, and the latter because, well, you know. When I asked how long they wanted me to speak for, and learned it was 50 minutes, panic deepened.
I've done a fair amount of public speaking in my career - my knees always shake - and the last few minutes before going on, I always feel like I'm going to pass out. But before I can hit the floor, I remind myself of one important fact: I'm there because someone asked me, because they thought I had something worthwhile to say. So however I might be feeling, it's not really a hostile room. The people in attendance came voluntarily and want to hear me. So, no pressure, right? Or, at least, less pressure. Still, this Backspace keynote thing felt bigger than my usual top-of-my-head, shoot-from-the-hip, anecdotes-plus-Q&A session with no notes. This time, I realized I'd need an outline, something I could glance at occasionally to jog my memory and so that I wouldn't forget anything important that I wanted to share. What follows then is that outline, which I thought it would be fun to reprint here. (By the way, I did time myself in my basement before going to New York and found I could turn the following into 50 minutes of - hopefully! - meaningful stories, without going over the time limit; it's always been important to me not to exceed any time limits.) Each line represents one or more anecdotes. Oh, and it's in all caps so that I could easily see it on the podium. Here you go:
HOW I GOT HERE – JOINED 6 YEARS AGO JANUARY
HOW I GOT HERE – JOINED 6 YEARS AGO JANUARY
SURPRISED AT BEING ASKED
THE KIND OF SPEECH THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE
THE PLEDGE, PART 1: LOCK THE DOORS
THE UNHAPPY WRITER
CHOICES; LIVING CONSCIOUSLY
10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED
1 DON’T CHASE TRENDS OR WRITE BOOKS SIMPLY TO GET PUBLISHED; WRITE WHAT YOU WOULD LOVE TO READ; SET DAILY GOALS
2 IF AT FIRST, OR TENTH, YOU DON’T SUCCEED, WRITE ANOTHER BOOK, e.g., FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES – ALWAYS MOVE FORWARD; WE ARE NOT DEFINED BY THE FACT THAT WE HAVE FAILED – WE ARE DEFINED BY WHAT WE DO WITH THAT FAILURE.
3 GATHER ALL THE WISDOM YOU CAN, THEN MAKE THE DECISION THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU, e.g., THE THIN PINK LINE
4 AGENTS; DON’T WORK FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU; NOT A MINDREADER
5 HOW TO TAKE CRITICISM: “THANK YOU, YOU’VE GIVEN ME A LOT TO THINK ABOUT”; ALL EDITORIAL ADVICE REALLY COMES DOWN TO THREE THINGS
6 DEALING WITHCOPYEDITORS; STET IS YOUR FRIEND
7 DEALING WITH REVIEWS; THE FIVE-MINUTE RULE
8 YOUR ONLINE LIFE AS A WRITER; YOU DON’T NEED TO BE AN EXPERT ON EVERYTHING; DON’T TALK BACK TO REVIEWERS, UNLESS YOU’RE CHARGED WITH PLAGIARISM; DON’T LOOK DOWN ON WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WRITE; DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY WHEN OTHERS LOOK DOWN ON WHAT YOU WRITE; NEVER TELL AN UNPUBBED WRITER THAT ALL IT TAKES IS TALENT AND NEVER TELL A PUBBED WRITER THAT ALL IT TAKES IS LUCK.
9 KEEPING YOUR MIND RUNNING ON TWO TRACKS AT ONE TIME
10 THE BEST ADVICE: 1) READ, READ, READ; 2) THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN EVER REALLY TAKE YOU OUT OF THE GAME IS YOU
WHAT I SAID WHEN I ACCEPTED THE AWARD FOR BKSP MEMBER OF THE YEAR SEVERAL YEARS AGO, WHEN THERE WERE ONLY 500+ BKSP MEMBERS INSTEAD OF THE CURRENT NEARLY 2000: I’m crazy enough to believe that if people are willing to work hard enough at it they deserve the career of their dreams. So I wish all of you who are trying to break into this insane business success in that insane endeavor, and for those of you who are already in the game, I wish you the career you want it to be.
THE PLEDGE, PART II: “I WILL BE...A HAPPY...RESILIENT...WRITER.”
Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children. Her most recent release is the paperback edition of THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER, appropriate for teens and adults, which she hopes you will buy because she thinks it's the best book she ever wrote. And if you have kids or know them, her nine-book series THE SISTERS 8 is featured all this month at Amazon under Books for Children Ages 6-8 (the books are actually for kids 6-10 but olde kids and even adults like them too). Visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBaratzL