As ridiculous as it might seem at first (of course, you shouldn’t do horrible mean things just for the sake of doing them–that would make you an awful human being), the advice has a sort of sage-like brilliance.
Most of us come to discover, over a lifetime of trial and error, that you can’t wait for the stars to align perfectly to pursue your goals. If you ever actually want to reach those goals, you need to take matters into your own hands. And maybe your hands are messy. Or too full. Or you feel like you have no clue what you’re doing. Or sometimes you even wonder what’s the point anyway…
But the goal keeps coming back. It lingers, prodding you with unsuspected nudges, until finally you relent. “Okay, fine. I’ll just do something already!”
Case in point…
Last winter, I circulated this blog post which declared my intention to reach out to illustrators. A college friend from my freshman year dorm, of all things, saw it on Facebook and messaged me a link to an artist who had attended Northwestern with us. I’d never met her, but on his recommendation, I checked out her work and fell in love. But it wasn’t only her work. It was her personality, her passion, and her clear pursuit of a dream that had taken her by surprise and shaken her world. And she was doing it. Unashamedly, enthusiastically, brilliantly, she was doing something… and then some!
I began commenting on her products and posts. We became social media acquaintances. I became a fan. She became a sort of friend, in that “I imagine I know you know because your posts really mean something to me” kind of way.
Then last week, she messaged me directly to give me a first look at a new product line she was launching.
As I read her message, sitting there rocking my son to sleep, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to reach out to this artist regarding my book?”
In the past when I’ve had a thought like that, I’d put a mental to-do note on the idea and go about my business, bogged down by the thought of crafting the perfect email, digging up reference materials, revisiting the manuscripts (for the millionth time), etc.
But for some reason (maybe it was the lack of sleep), this time I just did a quick text back, mentioning my book ideas, detailing where I was in the process, and pointing her to my website. Done. Out there in the ether. I had done SOMETHING. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect approach, but it was no longer an idea simmering on the back burner in my head.
And you know what? She responded immediately! She checked out my site and liked what she saw. I’ve since sent her the manuscripts and related proposals … and she liked those, too! I had begun to think the time-intensive effort of creating those proposals was for naught (now that I’m not going the traditional publishing route), but lo and behold, they made a surprise comeback and became my greatest champion. (Thank you, Kerry Colburn and Jennifer Worick, for your brilliant influence on that front.)
Wow, this is all super impressive. You have definitely done your research and have a clear vision! You’re the real deal.
That was her reply. I could have cried with relief and excitement.
Granted, I’m not getting ahead of myself. I fully admit: Who knows what will become of this? I haven’t even named the artist here because I don’t want her (or me) to feel pressure in any way, if for whatever reason this doesn’t work out. We both agree that, what’s best of the books, is the best illustrator match. And that could be her. Or maybe not.
But guess what?
Nine months after saying I was going to reach out to illustrators, I’ve actually contacted one. And even if it turns out to be “wrong,” just doing SOMETHING sure feels right.