These are my National Geographic books. Seven published, six in the pipeline. What do they have to do with I Hatched!? None of them would be published without it. Well, they’d be published. But someone else would be their author.
A National Geographic editor was featured at one of our state conferences six or seven years ago. The staff dinner (I was on staff at the time) was a relaxed affair held at a member’s home, so when I saw the editor, who seemed the quiet type, leave the buffet and take her plate into a comfy (and empty) den, and nobody else was following, I made myself take the plunge. I was a painfully shy kid, and initiating conversation with strangers still isn’t easy for me. But I was more concerned, in this case, that she feel welcome. I wasn’t even writing nonfiction, so it wasn’t like I was going to try to pump her for secret submission tips or anything. (I know. Overthinking. But yes, that ran through my mind. I was hoping if I mentioned that I only wrote fiction, she’d know she could relax around me.)
As I always do when talking with somebody I don’t know well (or at all), I turned every conversation to her. She warmed up as she answered my questions about working at nat geo – telling me about the beautiful atrium, frequent opportunities to attend talks by explorers, their amazing photo archives, etc. One topic kept leading to others, and we ended up having a long and extremely pleasant conversation. I stopped thinking of her as Ack, an editor! and came to see her as a really nice, fascinating person.
I hadn’t written I Hatched! then, but a few years later, when it was ready to submit, I thought of her. My agent sent it her way. Sadly, she’d left nat geo not long before. The current staff passed on I Hatched! BUT. They liked my writing enough to ask if I might be interested in writing a couple of books for a new series they were planning. Um, gee, let me think about it for a min–YES!
I learned a long time ago that when a new writing opportunity arises, the answer is ALWAYS yes, even when I’m not sure I know what I’m doing (which is most of the time, honestly).
So what is all this leading up to? Well, since my fellow TAs have been posting about One Thing for 2014 they’ll do more or less of to support their writing, I hope the rest of you introverts out there will vow to make a special effort to step out of your comfort zones at least once this year. Attend a writing conference and talk to people, take an on-line workshop, write an e-mail to the author of a favorite book. Making a new connection might end up leading to Big Things, writing-wise. But getting involved, expanding your relationship pool – however you do so – will definitely enrich your life and make you a more interesting person. What do you have to lose?
Two introverts passing through our farm.
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