Something I've been grateful for during this experience is the help of my mentor, Zac, and the people that have helped build me up and support me. I've touched on how personal writing can feel in previous posts, so I was nervous to let anyone into my process. Even more so, I've had professors and other people I've looked up to in the past shame me for asking questions or struggling with my work. Combine this with my initial hesitation to try writing in all legitimacy, and I was very anxious to meet someone I hadn't known before and open up to them about my goals.
However, I have to give props to Zac because he has been amazing throughout my, albeit short, journey. He's been wonderful at answering any and all of my questions. When we meet he offers down to earth encouragement and advice that has made me feel like I can actually do this; his success as an author has only added substance to his words. (He recently interviewed Erik Larson- how cool is that?!)
When talking with him about meetings and how to pitch ideas, he gave me insight into the industry that I never had before. While it may be difficult to actually put into action, he has been incredibly encouraging about submitting ideas and sending out pitches to magazines and people; he's advocated for me to face rejection and also said magazines can be unexpectedly accepting of articles if you give it a shot. I've always been worried about trying to pitch because I don't have an educational background in writing and I don't have much of a portfolio at this moment. Zac, however, has supported the idea of "shooting my shot"- simply asking people for an interview, pitching to local magazines, even if I don't feel like I have the background for it.
While I have yet to pitch an actual article to a magazine, we had a really fascinating speaker on sustainability in one of my classes the other day. I found the speaker's work intriguing and thought that members of the local community would like to hear about it. I put two and two together and decided that this might be a good first pitch for me: not only is it someone I would have met face to face before the interview, but it's a subject matter directly related to my field of study, so I'd feel knowledgeable talking and asking questions about it. Maybe it was a moment of excitement or courage, but I approached the speaker after class and asked if I could interview him for an article. To my surprise he was immediately on board with the idea and gave me his business card to set up a meeting. No, we haven't met yet. But I am excited for when we do!
While I don't think I've reached the stage of writing where I'll start seriously facing rejection (read: trying to get published), for me, even getting this far has been a huge step forward. I've gone from nobody even knowing I enjoyed writing to having contacts in the industry and even setting up an interview. This has begun to prove the truth behind Zac's advice of just "giving it a shot". Had I not given writing a shot in the first place, I wouldn't have met these people or had these opportunities. The positivity and support I've been met with have built my confidence faster than years of hiding my writing ever had. I know these reflections tend to be sprinkled with cliches (they're cliches because they're true, okay?), but I think the theme here is: you'll never know until you try. I was afraid of being met with discern and rejection, but I would have never experienced the exact opposite if I hadn't given it a shot in the first place. While I'm sure the future inevitable rejection will be difficult, I'll never know unless I try, right?