As I write this it is Thursday, October 22nd. Its 4:10 in the afternoon and I am plotting out the rest of the day. Tomorrow I will drive down to the Hyatt Regency Tech Center and pick up my registration information for Mile Hi Convention 47. I will be on four panels tomorrow, two as a panelist, two as a moderator. I will probably try to track down Aaron Michael Ritchey, (Author of the Never Prayer and All hail the Suicide King – great books for teenagers, btw.) and talk about a short story we’re planning on co-writing. Afterwards, the Fetching Mrs. Evans and I will adjourn to the bar and have cocktails with my new tribe.
This year has been an interesting one, as far as my writing has gone. I won’t say I’ve been very productive, but it has been interesting. This is the year I learned to ask.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
My mother was a Catholic convert, but her Evangelical roots were deep. I had always thought that this passage meant that I had to ask God for the things I wanted. (Especially since verse 10 talks about asking God in heaven for these things.) But the reality is much different. I learned this year that I have to ask the people around me, too.
This was hard for me to learn. Why? To ask for help implies a lack of knowledge and a lack of competency. It implies that you don’t know everything. It implies that you are flawed, imperfect. These are things no one wants to admit to other people.
But you know what? The irony is that other people are ready and willing to help you. Help you better yourself, help you learn, help you heal. These people, for the most part, don’t care about your flaws or your failings. They have been in your shoes. They want to help. But to get their help, you have to ask.
It started in the spring of 2014. I had a short story printed in Penny Dread IV, an anthology of Steampunk. (Its excellent, btw, and you can get it on Amazon!) I asked the Editor, Quincy J. Allen, for guidance in how to get started in writing. He was very generous with his advice, which I was grateful for. I then asked Aaron Michael Ritchy if he would mentor me. THAT was a big step for me. It was scary, but he agreed, and began coaching me about writing. Then I asked to be on a panel at a local convention, called Myths and Legends Con. I was accepted in that.
Around a year ago I decided I wanted to be on more convention panels. I thought this would be a great way to meet other authors and get my name around. So I applied to be on a couple of panels at Denver Comic Con. They said yes, which was amazing to me. Denver Comic Con has over 100,000 visitors during their weekend. I was on two panels, both of which were completely filled; 250 people came to the panel I ran on role-playing games. Another 400 people were in the panel I sat in on Sunday. I couldn’t believe it.
In February, my friend Mike posted something about an online magazine that needed writers. So I forced Mike to make an introduction to Aaron Bayne, former senior editor and owner of Man-Gazine. Aaron loved my writing style and I started writing in the spring of 2015. Now I am the Editor-in-Chief.
I never realized what doors could open if you just knocked on them! I know that sounds naïve and a little trite, but I don’t care. For most of my life I was warry of asking for help. I didn’t want to be considered a fool, or incompetent. What I really didn’t want, was for anyone to think of me as being a pest, or being needy. But, in my desire to look competent, to be the equal of those around me, I realize now that I was needy, and touchy. Well, no more.
In this past year, I have had opportunities presented to me that I never imagined. I have met artists and professionals that have humbled me with their graciousness. I have grown as a writer and as a man.
What I learned in 2015 is that you have to ask for what you want in life. You may get a no. You may get ridiculed. You may find that the help you’re asking for may come with strings you are not prepared to deal with. Will it be scary? Of course. But there is no shame in being afraid, only in acting like a coward. Besides, fear makes you feel alive! At the end of the day, isn’t that better than playing it safe?
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Read Man-Gazine at www.mangazine2014.wordpress.com