As I've mentioned I was going to do, I went to Idaho last weekend and gave two talks on the subject of "The Seven Deadly Sins of Self Publishing." They went pretty well, and I'm really glad I did it. But that's not what this post is about.
This post is actually about listening to your teachers, paying attention to words of wisdom, and following the right path - even when you're the one who is teaching/imparting/pointing it out.
You see, I've been feeling pretty good about the two sessions. Yes, three people nodded off during the first session, but the conference room was probably about 80 degrees and pretty stuffy and at about 3:30 in the afternoon they'd all been in and out of sessions for 7 hours. Plus... well... the majority of the audience were not spring chickens, so they hadn't ever learned to over caffeinate to keep going. And it was only three people out of about 18, so I figure that's pretty good.
By the second session, I was a bit more on my game (remember - it has been 20+ years since I last taught a class), and of the 12 people in attendance, only 1 nodded off. And I saw her nod off at the banquet that evening, as well. So I figure she might do that a lot.
From what I've learned, there were about 45 people in attendance at the conference. I had about 30 of them listening to me between the two sessions. Plus I had 4 people sign up for one-on-one writing coaching sessions in advance, then 1 signed up after hearing me speak - and one of the original four signed up for a second session with me to try to answer some more of her questions, and truly seemed energized by what we discussed.
After each session, people came up to chat. People struck up conversations with me later on. And someone even asked if I'd be coming to their conference next year.
I left there feeling pretty darned good about it all. I texted Christopher and we chatted on the phone and I told him all about it. I couldn't wait to get back to work today and talk about it with people.
Then, as I was sitting in the office this afternoon, my boss came in and asked how it had gone. I told him I thought it had gone well - that I had handed out all of my business cards and lots of people asked about the company - and that I was glad I had gone. He asked how many people attended, and I gave him the ballpark numbers, and told him how many people I had spoken to. And he just kind of looked at me and said "Oh," which seemed to include a mix of "Is that all?" and "I'm glad we're not paying you for that." in his voice.
I went from really proud of my weekend to feeling like the conference might have been a bust.
Then someone asked me what my talk was about. And I told him my topic. He asked what the Sins are, as I see them. And he laughed with me as I listed them off, ending with "Sin #7: Judging your success by anyone else's standard." To which he said "Sounds like a good idea for life in general."
Lightbulb. Lightning bolt. Whack upside the head with a pillow. All the cartoon cliches for epiphany moments.
No. I wasn't the opening act at Madison Square Garden. No. I didn't do a Ted talk with 47,000 views on YouTube. What I did do was step out of my daily life, put my skills and knowledge to good use, and - hopefully - make a difference in a few people's lives. Maybe inspiring a few people to write some more. Maybe convincing a few writers to consider self publishing. Maybe reminding some frustrated self-published authors that success is what you make of it.
And I had fun doing it. Which is why this weekend will become cocktail party conversation for the next few months, while the eight hours I spent at work today will simply become a footnote.
I guess you could say I learned my lesson - I just needed someone else to remind me.