So. It’s been a week since the last day of PNWA Conference. I’ve had time to let things settle, to think a little more about what I learned and what it means to my life as a writer.

I think the single most important concept that I carried away with me is the reality of writing as a business, not just something I do in a corner of my house because I like to play with words and characters and stories. It’s not like this is a sudden bolt of lightning from out of the blue – I’ve understood for a long time that publishing requires marketing efforts on the part of the author. But I had sort of compartmentalized the two things in my mind. First, write a good book. Second, find a good agent. And then – something, something, something. The All Knowing Agent would surely help and guide me.

Life doesn’t work that way. If something is important to you, if you want something done, nobody is going to figure it out for you. You can get help, but in the end you have to do it for yourself.

Maybe you are all more grown up than me, and learned this lesson years ago. Me? It’s not that I haven’t learned it, it’s that somehow it doesn’t stay learned. I should know better.

The first time it really sank in was after my husband died suddenly, leaving me with two kids, a job, an unfinished master’s degree and absolutely no understanding of our financial situation. I’m hopeless at numbers, he was good at them, and he had always taken care of the bills. It was an equitable arrangement. It worked. At least it worked until he was suddenly and dramatically NOT THERE. My beloved big brother and a friend stepped in, went through everything, and explained it all to me. They explained it clearly and concisely. And then they went back to their lives and I ran into one of those brick walls reality likes to set in our paths every now and then: I Am Responsible. I’m the one who needs to take care of this, I’m the one who needs to understand it. The way I live must now change not just once a month when the bills are paid, but daily. And, as it turns out, numbers aren’t my thing but I can manage just fine.

And now I am learning that lesson all over again with publishing. Planning my writing career is my responsibility. It’s part of everything – part of the writing, part of my social networking, part of who I am as a writer.

Change strikes again.

I’ve already taken steps. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I no longer identify myself as Uppington. This is sad for me. I’ve had a great deal of fun being Uppington. I hide behind her, let her be my public face. But, if I truly want my name known and recognized in the publishing industry, if I’m striving toward getting a book on the shelves with my name on it, I need to be known – as me.

Yesterday I registered a domain name and began planning an author website. That is going to take awhile, and in the meantime I’ll be here. But when the day comes to make that change, you’ll find me not as Uppington, but as Kerry Schafer. Writer. And business woman.