As promised months ago (okay, maybe A month ago)...More wisdom coming at you from PNWA:
Chances are that by this point in the conference I was exhausted; whether it was due to the fact I'd just flown across the country (Literally, North Carolina to Seattle), the fact I hadn't really been sleeping more than three hours, the fact that the conferences were so in depth that I couldn't focus....But I'm not sure.
Honestly, I can't remember the panel, or who I was surrounded by. I can't remember what I wore that day, or really, what day it was. But this day...my life kind of took off. (No, really, this was life changing advice for me, if it's not for you, then it's not for you and leave it at that :) ).
We're adults now. We can pick and choose who we associate with. Whomever was speaking at this moment told the crowd, "From here on out, only associate with people who will help propel your career, not bring it down."
Amazing advice, no?
Here's why I LOVED this.
There will ALWAYS be people wanting to latch on to you for what you can give them; if you work in retail, "Hey, can I use your discount?" If you work at a coffee shop, "Free drinks? Free coffee?" People are greedy, it's part of nature. I'm not going to lie, I'm greedy, I've used people in the past. But there are people who just take, and take, and never give back. Then...
There are those who take, and give. These are the people you want to find. These are the people willing to critique pages for you, if you do pages for them. They're willing to read your query, if you read for them. They don't want anything more or anything less. They want to offer help, and receive help.
Then there are those people already in the industry who can't critique for you, but they can offer advice. People like Janna Cawrse Esarey, a presenter (and author) at the conference who stayed well after her allotted time to help the newbies like me with their pitches. People like Kerry Cohen, Rebecca Rasmussen, Zu Vincent, and James Frey who tell you that you have something, and to just not give up.
Branching out a little further, I've kind of taken this advice and put it toward a lot of what's been happening in my life. Within the last month or two, I was being treated poorly by a person who said they wanted to be my friend. After PNWA (literally, days later), I was talking on the phone and came to the realization that I was better than what I was receiving. I blatantly told the person, "Hey, I don't deserve to be treated like this. If you are going to change the way you're treating me, then I'd be happy to keep you in my life. If not...Well..It's not a real loss then, is it?" (I was then called a dumb bitch and hung up on. Point proven? I think so.)
Moral of the ramble is, you choose who you talk to. You choose the relationships you have to people. If they aren't nice, and they aren't supportive, you don't need them. (This is not just for writing, either). People should accept you the way you are, even if you want to some day find Atlantis, because dammit, if you set your dreams high enough, you'll reach em. (Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise).