As I became more serious about writing to publish, I kept hearing the same advice from everyone. "Go to a writers conference or event. You'll be able to network and improve your craft." Of course, I ignored this counsel for a good long while before I finally decided to buck up, pay the money and go.
It was early autumn. The conference was located in a beautiful little valley in Utah. I didn't know a soul in attendance, but I went armed with query letters, sample chapters, and my best attitude. I felt like a genuine author, walking around the resort with my laptop bag, meeting new people that shared the joy of writing.
I had reserved a time slot to pitch my manuscript to an agent. Oh how I remember that first pitch. The agent kept saying, "take a deep breath, Tyler. Just calm down and tell me about your story." Even though he decided not to represent me, I gained valuable courage and experience for the future.
I returned to that little valley just a few weeks ago to spend some family time for the holidays. I had a smile on my face as I thought about how much had happened since that first conference - I'd acquired an agent, my book was published, and I'd been on a national book tour. It was wonderful to reflect back to the beginning and see all the little decisions and experiences that led up to where I am today.
May the new year be full of new firsts for many of you!
- Tyler Whitesides (author of JANITORS)