How starting a writing association helped my publishing journey – Orly Konig

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By Orly Konig

I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes kinda gal. In my corporate life, I was happy doing the writing and planning and organizing and letting someone else be in the spotlight. So when I started writing, I struggled between my trollish-side that wanted to stay deep in the cave and the realistic side that knew I’d have to brave social media and public appearances if I had any hopes of becoming a published author.

In 2012, a group of women’s fiction authors came together with a dilemma — we were about to become associationless. Our only solution was to create something that fit our needs. Taking on the task of organizer was a no-brainer. But imagine my discomfort when I found myself the de-facto founding president.

For three years, I wadded upstream. Between association demands and writing and rejections, I learned a few things that, in the end, prepared me for this … the launch of my debut.

1. Your reserves go deeper than you think.

I’ve never shied away from hard work and I don’t live in a fantasy world where things magically happen when you wish for them. Writing a novel isn’t just “I have a great story” and, voila, publishing greatness follows (well, maybe for some). It’s writing and revising, critiques and revising, rejections and revising. It’s reviews that lift you to the sky and reviews that crush you into the dirt.

Founding the association wasn’t much different. I was either going on the books as the founding president who launched an association that filled an important niche in the publishing industry, or I was going down as the founding president who tanked an association that could have filled an important niche.

What I learned is that when pushed to the limit, there’s always more inside if you have the passion for what you’re doing. I believed in WFWA and I was going to do whatever I could to make it successful. Today, we’re over 900 members strong. I believe in my stories and the characters who inhabit those worlds. The book that comes out summer 2018 has seen more revisions than I ever imagined possible. And every time I think there’s nothing left but a big poop heap, a brilliant new bud of inspiration pokes out.

2. There’s a great big, supportive community out there.

Maybe it’s the introvert in me or insecurity or a not-so-slight tendency to be a control freak, but I tend to put my head down and do rather than ask for help. I have a couple of trusted critique partners, but for the most part I still get jittery about asking someone for help.

When WFWA happened, it wasn’t just me. There were five founding members and all of us were working like crazy. And it wasn’t just the founders. Suddenly there were a lot of people knocking on the rock to my cave. People had expectations for the Association. But here’s the kicker, most of those people also wanted to give back. And many of those people have been genuinely excited and incredibly supportive as my release date got closer and closer.

Writing may be a solitary undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be – nor should it be – lonely. Once you find your writing tribe, they will support and encourage you.

3. It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments.

I’ve always been the one happy to cheer for everyone else but reluctant to be in the spotlight. Watching WFWA grow into a thriving community has been incredibly rewarding. When I look at what we started with and where we are today, I’m amazed. It’s a heady, humbling feeling.

Then there’s the book. Each time someone congratulates me and asks if I’m excited, I fight the urge to shrink and disappear. But what I learned from the WFWA experience is that it’s okay to be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

4. “I can’t” is not an option.

Taking on a challenge like founding and overseeing a non-profit was way out of my comfort zone. WAYYYYYYYY out there. I had plenty of doubts early on. Until one day I realized I am doing it; and I’m not failing spectacularly, not even mildly.

At least a few-dozen times during a project, I stare at the blinking cursor on my computer and whine “I can’t write this book.”

This, perhaps, is the most important lesson learned: there is no “I can’t.” Because if you believe in what you’re setting out to do, you’ll find a way to do it. You’ll find the reserves when you’re too frustrated or disheartened or tired to know what comes next; you’ll turn to the people who support and motivate you; and you’ll push through the doubts. Because you can!

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. The Distance Home, out now from Forge, is her first novel.

Women’s Fiction Writers Association

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