Thursday Challenge is having two weeks of free-for-all. Any favorite picture. Here is one of mine. It’s a picture of some stores in Tahoe taken through an Amtrak window. It represents my greatest adventure.
Two summers ago, I sold my first fiction story. It was just a short story, and I sold it to an obscure online publisher that was so new mine was the first story it published. But still. I. Sold. A. Story. I was an author. Approximately 10 people have bought and read my story!
That was in June 2008. I found out that the ginormous Romance Writer’s of American conference was in San Francisco that year. San Francisco is about 500 miles from my house. Not super close, but when you realize that the nearest city to me is 250 miles away, really it isn’t that far. There would be 10,000 other writers there, dozens and dozens of agents and publishers. I was a writer! I had to go! Never mind that it was in four weeks.
Somehow I managed to convince the RWA to take my money, even though their registration was closed. Somehow I came up with the $500 registration in the first place. I went online and found a forum where people post for roommates and connected with the most wonderful woman who needed another roomie. We’re so far from an airport, that by the time I got to one I’d be half-way to San Francisco. I was on the verge of just driving the whole way, when I found out that I could take an Amtrak for $100 round trip. If you think back to what gas cost in summer 2008 (it was over $4 a gallon here) you’ll realize this was a steal.
So I went on an adventure. It was as far from frugal as I’ve ever been in my life. I paid a premium for the registration, I stayed in the conference hotel which cost $500 for the week just for my quarter of the cost (but I DID get to ride in the elevator with Christine Feehan!), and eating out three meals a day in San Francisco in a swanky hotel just isn’t frugal no matter how you cut it (but I did get to eat Indian food for the first time and fell in love.) I wouldn’t trade one minute of that week for anything. It was absolutely worth the money. Every single penny.
Here is my thought on frugality. I don’t think it’s the end-all. I think it’s the means to an end. Not spending everything we earn every single week on crap means we have money when an opportunity to have an adventure comes up. That trip, silly as it sounds, made me a real writer. I pitched a novel I had written to every agent who stood still long enough and to the head publisher of Kensington. I met and formed relationships with a handful of New York Times bestselling authors. I rode in the elevator with Christine Feehan (yes, that deserves two mentions), heard Nora Roberts talk about her success, spent five minutes standing shoulder to shoulder with Jayne Ann Krentz, and ended up shipping my clothes home so that I could stuff my suitcase with the eleventy billion books they gave away at the conference.
That conference was a defining moment for me.
It was the moment that I realized that “real authors” are no different than me. Nora Roberts started out writing Harlequin Romances to stay sane as a single mom. Every author I met started out where I was–unsure if all the bazillions of words and hours writing those words would ever pay off. Unsure if they were good enough for anyone to notice. The only thing they did that got them where they are today is to keep writing, keep trying, until they were good enough to be published. They didn’t give up.
And neither will I.
This lesson comes to you in a very round about way via frugality. Being frugal today means you have the money to take advantage of opportunities later.
More Thursday Challenge here.