by Denise Bike, guest blogger
This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers.
Amy Fish is a Tesla in the speed lane on the superhighway of hustle. She’s the kind of writer who can spin traffic making her late for an interview into an invite to the board’s editorial meeting. A woman who turns a missed connection at a conference into a series of get-to-know-me DMs that earn her a blurb for her book. It’s a wonder she can even see those of us sitting on the side of the road by our broken-down cars. Let alone stop to help us fix them. Yet in her breakout session, How to Hustle: Gentle Networking Tips for Writers, Fish did just that.
She’s one of those people you want to approach because she’s so open, so I did by asking for handouts. I thanked her for the promise of the title and let her know I’d been waiting for a session like this. “Why?” she asked, as I turned to jet back to the safety of my chair in the last row, which I’d detached and pulled closer to the back wall. “Because successful writers look vivacious and extroverted, and if that’s what you have to be to succeed, I’d have to give up.”
As Fish wrote in her session blurb “For many of us who lean introverted, talking about ourselves and our work can be a daunting task.” And she acknowledged that privilege yields advantage in hustling. I felt seen. Her list of tips began by showing us we’re already hustling, however gently.
- Know what you want and why you’re doing it.
- Show up: to events, to conversations, to classes.
- Generate work, so when someone asks, you have pieces to show them.
As Fish’s tips accelerated in difficulty level, the energy in the room was palpable with the possibilities revving us up. She sprinkled examples of her uber-hustle abilities throughout the presentation (editorial meetings invitations, blurb acquisitions), driving her point home in the Q&A—if you want the big payoff, you will have to up your game and learn to grind, grind, grind.
But for the first time, I wasn’t intimidated by that, because Fish showed me that I’m already taking steps 1 through 3 (I want to build meaningful connections with writers and readers. I attend retreats, classes, and conferences regularly; I write, revise, write). And I can easily volunteer and promote other’s work this year. These five simple steps will take me halfway across the Gentle Hustler’s Road Map.
I left Fish’s closing session, got into my car, and zipped home more confident that one day I could be a writer who hustles like her, because I don’t need to go from zero to 60—and I already know how to drive.