For starters, I learned from Joy Cowley – among several others – that a good writer writes every day. Joy ‘s story of her friend who wrote a complete novel, and a good one, in ten minutes per day over the course of a year was inspiring! Said friend literally sat down with a kitchen timer every day and got her seat in her seat, if you get my drift. Right up my alley! I may not use my kitchen timer, but I am going to spend some time every day writing.
Equally inspiring and entertaining was Peter Jacobi’s amazing speech. That gentleman could read the phone book out loud, and I’d happily listen all day and night. However, luckily for us, his talk was far more meaningful than a recitation of the yellow pages. One of the quotations that gave me food for thought was the following:
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man – just braver for five minutes longer.”
This quote stuck with me throughout the week: when Eric Rohmann, my mentor, asked me, “What are you afraid of?” with regards to submitting my work; when I sat down to try and brainstorm a new plot for the manuscript I’d spent months revising and refining; and when I decided to walk across campus in the pitch darkness of a complete power failure in search of water to keep from dehydrating in the stifling heat of a my top floor room. (Just my luck that the broken attic fan in my lodging sans A/C was fixed just in time for a major power outage.)
I do not have to be a hero in the traditional sense of the word. But I am the hero of my own story, and if I really, truly, deeply want to succeed – succeed in telling a story that affects the reader, that makes an agent or editor pick up the phone to call me, that changes one person’s life – then I have to persevere. I have to spend those five extra minutes brainstorming, and researching, and writing. Every day.