Daily Archives: July 31, 2008

Randy – The Value of Professional Associations

The
Society of Southwestern Authors
gives me connections that I value…friends and
colleagues who share a passion for writing. The group is based out of Tucson
(has chapters in other places in Arizona: Phoenix, Wickenburg, and the Santa
Cruz Valley), and monthly meetings offer members and guest an opportunity to
share. The experience here is enormous. Many of the members are professional
and have been writing all of their lives. They have earned their careers. The
published members rank among the best writers in the country, and here the
novice can sit down over a meal and talk shop with the experienced. When I went
to the monthly forums…after opening El Ojito Springs I’ve had to miss them: it
is one of the things I’ve sacrificed for the center…I decided to go to learn as
much as I could from mingling and networking. I didn’t do this out of
obligation; I enjoyed going. I can’t remember being disappointed. I didn’t
think I knew it all and gave myself a chance to soak it all in.

 


To go to the organization’s writer’s conference… Wrangling With Writers…was a
necessity for me. That was where my most ambitious side came out, and that was
where I worked to meet everyone I could. It is strange that I thought handing
out business cards would enhance my writing career, since writing skills are
improved through practice, and only that, and not by hobnobbing with even the
elite. Sometimes when I’m in crowds like that I have to push myself to say
something; and then…it was like I didn’t know what to say…I rarely got past the
introduction stage and soon found myself working the reception desk (that made
it even harder to get to know someone).

 


At ease now, hosting cultural and writing events almost on a daily basis, I’m
where I think I should’ve been years ago. (Whether they like it or not, writers
have to promote themselves and become very good at it; as I tell actors,
tension is ugly.) But at times the shyness is still there, and the very idea of
selling myself feels out of character. At the same time I am expected to be a
showman, so that part of my personality has come out, and I have learned to
enjoy it. Now, when I go back to the conference (which this year is scheduled
for September 27 and 28 in Tucson), feeling more secure as a writer, I will be
less worried about making an impression. Four years ago, when I discovered the
society, I was unable to relax because I did not know how to promote myself; I
didn’t understand or believe that less is often better.

 

Goodnight.

Randy
Ford, playwright

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