A few weeks ago I got to attend the 34th Annual Achievement Awards for The Writers and Illustrators of the Future. And while it was fun to get all dressed up (don't we make a sharp looking group?), the message that really resonated with me was the concept of 'paying it forward,' which was a key point of the awards. The contest is specially open to aspiring writers and illustrators, to help the winners gain a leg up breaking into the industry. I found it inspiring to see those successful at their craft taking the time to give back to those who are still working at making a name for themselves.
An important point was brought up during the awards that paying it forward is important, because usually the people who have helped you out don't need your assistance as much - they already have a successful career, so instead, focus 'giving back' on the next generation. As I am still very much in this next generation of aspiring writers, the message hit its mark. So many individuals have taken their time to help me - be it offering industry advice, reading my work, referring me to their editor, my agent taking a chance on me by signing on an unknown and unpublished writer... (and the list goes on!) that I feel immensely grateful to these kind souls who are helping me along my journey as a writer.
And I want to return the favor of giving back - to both those helping me now, and especially to new writers. I don't have a lot to offer right now, but what I do have, I'm trying to put to good use. I do what I can to support those writers who have helped me and have become my friends, such as referring their books to people or going to their signings when I'm able. I make sure to be a professional and diligent client of my agent - making sure he has whatever he needs to sell my work. And while I am limited in what I can offer new writers, having very little clout of my own, I still seek out helping them when I can. I've found volunteering with writing groups and events the best thing I can do at the moment. I spent last weekend at the LA Times Festival Of Books at the Greater Los Angeles Writer's Society booth, talking with anyone interested in writing about GLAWS and how its aim is to assist writers at all levels. Next weekend I'll be volunteering at YALLWEST, a festival for YA and middle grade books. I've never been before, but am looking forward to helping out with another event to promote books!
So my long and lingering point is that paying it forward is a great idea. And one doesn't have to wait till they are wildly successful before they start paying it forward (not that I'd mind also becoming wildly successful), but this this is what I can do right now to pay it forward.