On Humility and Being a Small Fish

Because I am very, very lucky and spoiled, I have opportunity to attend at least one major writer’s conference every year, and have since I first started out. One of the major draws of every writer’s conference is the Big Fish, aka The Guest of Honor Whose Name is Printed in Big Letters Across the Tops Of Those Books You See at the Grocery Store and Airport.

Now, because I am a busy mother of two and happily married and a busy writer and and and, I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. I read from a book every single day, but it’s usually a chapter or two before I go to sleep so I make it through a whole book roughly once a month. This means, very few of the Big Names twitterpate me. If I’m apt to get flustered, it’s because I get to meet an author I’ve been reading for years. Trust me when I say, I don’t read books unless I love them. I’ve stopped reading countless books after a few chapters because they just don’t grab me. I quite simply do not have enough free time to squander on books that don’t move me.

The ones that do, however? Oh, wow, those are like a breath of fresh air. A big old breath of fresh air after riding in an elevator with a person whose BO is so bad it’s practically a tangible presence.

Where am I going with this? Yes. Quite. The point. I’ll find that for you and return to it.

One of my favorite takeaways from Jim's appearance? He doesn't believe in writer's block. When you've got a job to do, get it done regardless of your mood.

One of my favorite takeaways from Jim’s appearance? He doesn’t believe in writer’s block. When you’ve got a job to do, get it done regardless of your mood.

Regardless of whether I’ve read their work or not, I learn so much listening to these writers speak. It’s immensely edifying to listen to what these giants have learned, and I always take away something that I end up using.

Inevitably, however, I also end up taking away something else: A big old dose of humble pie, and a reinforcement of the fact that I am, indeed, a very, very small fish.

Point in fact, Wes and I had the pleasure of attending one of Jim Butcher’s book signings on Friday night. The line was out the door, and every single chair in the venue was filled with people who were thrilled to be in the same room as one of their favorite authors.

I couldn’t help but think about how I’m thrilled to see any people I don’t already know at my book signings. I’ve got a long, long way to go, you guys. A looooooooooooong way.

I think the humility and self-awareness is good. When you’re a no-name author, scrapping your way up from the bottom and doing your best not to squander any and all opportunities, you’re hungry and willing to do the work. I’m determined not to be complacent, to keep my eyes on where I want to go and keep learning as much as I can from whoever is willing to teach me.

Maybe someday, in the very far future, I’ll have packed signings of my own to go to. Wouldn’t that be something?