Thursday, March 3, 2011

Something you aren't (yet)

A writer friend and I have been kicking around whether or not to attend a local writing conference. The event will have a series of short lectures, a keynote, and, for an extra fee, a marketplace with agents and publishers. Neither one of us are even close to shopping a manuscript, but the rest of the conference might have something to offer. We've been debating the expense, whether the short lectures are worth the time, and most importantly, whether we're ready to mingle with the other writers.

It reminds me of something that happened early on in my business. Within a few weeks of opening my store, a guy came in. He was impressed with the store design and the lighting in particular. He asked if I could sell the lighting. Since I had ordered so much of it, technically, I could be a dealer. Because it was so early and I was so eager to make money in any way, I told him that yes, of course, I was a dealer. I went to the back to pull the catalogs, but realized too late that they only contained wholesale pricing, and worse, I didn't have a plan for pricing in place.

At that point, I should have gone back to the guy and told him that I'd need some time to get the catalogs together. Instead, I grabbed a sharpie marker, and started marking through the prices. Of course, the black ink wouldn't dry and I smeared marker on my hands. The rest of the book had pricing too and it would be impossible to mark every page, so I tore out the pages in question. Red faced, I handed the guy a few crumpled pages with smeared marker on them (and me). Needless to say, he didn't come back to order lighting from me.

There is something to be said for not trying to be something you aren't, yet. I am a fiction writer. I am writing fiction. But I am not a mature fiction writer. The writing isn't going to be as easy as the lighting could have been, yet I feel okay with the fact that I am right where I am supposed to be. I think the important part is that I am up front about it from the beginning.

So the big question is, will my friend and I attend the conference? Maybe. Either way, you can bet that I will definitely leave the sharpie markers at home.

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