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"The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open." ~ Chuck Palahniuk
At the conference, two authors (Linda Rohrbough and Kevin J. Anderson) influenced how I now perceive risk.
I attended two sessions by Linda Rohrbough. One session was how to write what is known as "the elevator pitch." It was a fabulous session, which did help my create a three sentence pitch for Finding Meara. So impressed by that session, I went to her workshop on plotting tools the next day. Again, she delivered an excellent workshop, and gave me some ideas on how to keep my plotting straight. She has some of the tools she showed us on her website, so you might want to check it out.
Kevin J. Anderson presented a workshop on the business side of writing with his wife, author Rebecca Moesta. Both have a long list of books, novels and screenplays they have written, edited or just plain have been involved with. What thrilled me, though, was that they have written for Lucas Film, and Kevin Anderson wrote for the X-files and co-authored with Dean Koontz.
I attended Linda Rohrbough's pitch session first. In it she explained cognitive dissonance, which is when your brain tells you that you're nuts for doing what you're doing. She said, and I believed her, that if your mind starts freaking out, you are most likely doing exactly what you should.
I liken it to the saying, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." If we don't shake ourselves up, and push the limits of safety (be that emotional, financial, professional) we don't have the opportunity to experience something different. We limit the opportunities success has to find us.
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Then I attended the workshop by Kevin Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. What struck me most in that workshop was how Kevin Anderson's career worked out. I can't remember everything, so I hope I don't misspeak.
What I remember clearest is that, while he had to be in the right place at the right time for the opportunities to come knocking, he didn't back away once the opportunity knocked. Several times during the workshop, he related being invited to join a project, and even if he was knee deep in the middle of current work, he agreed to take on the new project.
He didn't do so out of desperation or because he was afraid to let the opportunity pass. When he related the stories, he said "I thought, 'I could do that.'" He had confidence in his abilities and what he could accomplish.
Each of those opportunities put him in the position to be in the right place at the right time for more opportunities, which snowballed into more opportunities.
I don't think any of us should run out and start committing to things we can't accomplish. Not following through on anything is a career-wrecker, no matter what career you have.
What I did take away from the conference was to look for the opportunities, and then push ourselves a little to accept the challenge. Be confident in our abilities to "git-r-done." Don't wait until everything looks perfect and ready and safe. Sometimes we have to grab life, tell our collective heads to shut up, and give success a chance to find us. We have to take a risk.
Have you taken a risk that paid off? Have you ever regretted not taking a risk when the opportunity presented itself?