RWAUS22: Maisey Yates Keynote

These are my notes from the Romance Writers of Australia 2022 conference. Please be aware that this is not a transcript.

Keynote Speech by Maisey Yates

Theme: Bedtime Stories

MY told herself stories while falling asleep as a teen.

Marriage isn’t a finishing line, it’s a journey. Ditto publishing.

When I sold my first book, that was the wedding. Publishing is the marriage/journey.

After 151 books, I still get rejected. I haven’t arrived, I’m always pushing, succeeding, failing, and keeping on going. But I am living the dream. It’s active and ongoing.

Things change with time, they deepen. I am still a wife, mother, daughter, but the WAY I am these things has changed. This is life. Everything we are and everything we do SHIFTS.

Success and failure aren’t the peak or low points. It’s the steps that matters. (MY used an Edison quote here).

You can have goals but there is more on the other side. You need to bring yourself with you, while separating yourself from success and failure. And realise that sometimes they overlap.

I’m a published author because I love it.

But after 13 years, this dream must exist WITH my life. So here are 13 things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Only writing teaches you how to write.
    – your process will shift over time
    – sucking is inevitable
    – don’t avoid bad feelings
    – embrace the lesson
    – practice finishing
  2. Ego and Humility must co-exist
    – the world will smash your ego
    – believe in your work with conviction
    – no external validation will last
    – you can’t count on the ‘parade’ to validate you
    – at the same time, edits will make you better (embrace them with humility)
    – you have to absorb feedback
    – accept that sometimes a book isn’t working
  3. Emotional and Cerebral
    – art and commerce are uncomfortable bedfellows
    – ask: Will I love writing it? Will it sell?
    – because I love writing, I want to get paid for it, so that I can do it more
    – the external packaging isn’t the heart of the story
    – ask: how do I wrap my heart into something commercial
  4. You have to know what you want
    – dial into why you want this
    – define the goal
    – there are no wrong answers
    – other people will project their issues onto your goals and it’s important to stop them
    – goals change, and it’s OK
    – every time I’ve achieved something, my goals increase and/or shift
  5. Shifting goals matters
    – creativity expands (and your goals should too)
  6. Ideas are CHEAP
    – the execution and the writing leads to a career
    – the idea isn’t the substance. Anyone can have ideas. Not everyone can finish a book
  7. Just because it’s a dream job doesn’t mean you’ll be happy all the time
    – it feels ungrateful to struggle
    – you deserve to be here
    – you don’t have to be happy every day
    – write through it
  8. Staying in publishing is harder than getting published
    – it’s hard. That’s ok.
  9. There’s no One Way
    – each book is different
    – just disliking the book doesn’t make it a bad book
    – you don’t have to love a book for it to be good
    – have humility; you can fix crap words
  10. It’s not all about the MONEY
    – ‘what will this get me right now?’ is short sighted
    – MY outlined an example of an anthology she was in, to show that taking an opportunity didn’t bring anything good ‘right now’ but did result in a greater opportunity later due to the network created
    – luck was involved, but I had to have the book too. You have to actively seek it and say yes to opportunities.
  11. Success isn’t just Money
    – some opportunities are tactical
    – sometimes it’s just for fun
    – build a life for yourself that makes you happy
    – don’t grind at the expense of your joy
    – there are no guarantees in this business, but you control the joy
  12. Failure is to be expected
    – it is no more a permanent destination than success
    – everyone will fail sometimes
    – the one that looked like a failure at first, might end up being a success
  13. Remember why you started
    – resist the pull of bitterness
    – let it go before it poisons you
    – the stories are what matters
    – we are here for the stories; they speak to us
    – hold on to your love of your stories

All the joy and creativity is in you already.

It’s okay to shift goals.

It’s okay to be proud of yourself.

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