Sorry y’all I’m a little late today–tomorrow I’ll get going earlier 🙂
This weekend I reached out to a woman I met at a bar a couple months ago.
No, it wasn’t for a date (although she is quite attractive)–it was actually for writing advice. She’s earned her MFA (Masters in Fiction), works as an editor in some capacity (I’d had a few beers by that point and it’s been several months so sue me), and I was hoping she could point me to an editor for my fiction, as I’ve just finished a manuscript and moved on to working on a collection of short stories.
(BTW, if you know any good fiction editors, send them my way–or just tell one of the big guys to fucking put me under contract. I’ve put in my goddamn 10,000 hours and shit is just pouring out of me)
Anyway, when she got back to me, she was extremely helpful, but at the same time the not so subtle message came through that “this should be the end of the conversation.” I didn’t take the hint and texted her again, ultimately hoping to meet for coffee and actually get a chance to talk face to face.
The next message she sent was not so subtle. After reiterating the advice she’d already given me, she added: “Also, immersing yourself in the lit community is a good way to organically develop friendships with folks who might become helpful mentors, which is more respectful than repeatedly asking a woman you met once for free advice.”
Rereading it now it’s pretty damn funny, but at the time I was disappointed. I felt rejected (because clearly I was), but also a little indignant–after all, I’d offered to buy coffee, so technically I was offering to pay for the advice. And wasn’t reaching out to this woman an attempt to develop a friendship with someone in the lit community?
The irony is, after I got over being a baby, it was exactly what I needed to hear. What she said was 100% true. It’s also something one of my best friends, Brandon, has been telling me for years–get out there and get involved.
It’s something we forget too often.
It’s so easy to go to work, come home, do whatever chores/bullshit we have to do, eat dinner, watch some Netflix, and go to bed–wake up the next day and repeat. Not only that, but when we do get our freedom on the weekends, we tend to do the same sorts of things, whether that’s spending time with family, our closest friends, weekend warrior-ing our favorite hobbies, whatever…
And if one’s happy with life, it’s all good. Keep on keepin’ on.
But if we’re not–if we want something different–we have to actually do something different. By now we’re all familiar with Einstein’s quote about doing the same thing and expecting different results, but one of the tricks my mind plays on me is that I think because I’ve heard good advice or know something, it’s now being applied to my life.
But it’s not. Changing our habits requires specific, intentional action over a long period of time. Gretchen Rubin, author of the book I referenced last week (Better Than Before) says it takes at least 60 or 70 days to create a habit.
The silver lining, however, is that the feeling of being stuck–the feeling of not getting what we want, whether that’s writing a novel or meeting that special someone or turning our “side-hustle” into a full time job–is temporary. It goes away as soon as we start taking action.
And let me be clear: posting shit on social media is not taking action. If you’re trying to market something, should you post it on social media and/or send out an email blast? Of course. But the hater advice I got from the lady above who clearly does not want to be my friend is spot on: we’ve got to get out there an meet people. We’ve got to make real human connections. If we want to grow and change and prosper we have to get out the front door and into the world.
Which leads me to…
Join a club. Attend meetings for your neighborhood association. Volunteer for something. Get a part time job for fun. Hell, just go to a bar or coffee shop on the regular. But get out there. Actually do shit. It’s certainly something I’m going to do for myself–today I emailed a writing instructor at PSU and contacted the Attic which runs writing workshops. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading! Cheers!