I’ve been slowly but steadily working on my Storybooks You Can Color, and I experienced the very thing I wrote about in F: Failure — there really is no Big Epic Fail. My “failures” weren’t fun initially, but they were the catalyst that changed everything.
I didn’t get into the craft show I’d applied to, and then I hit a wall and could not get past some technical challenges. Frustrated, I went for a walk, which you know from earlier posts can lead to serendipity. Head down and fuming, I pounded the pavement when a name came to mind. Before doubt could set in, I hurried home and sent a message. Barely two hours later, I received a reply: “Of course I’d be willing to advise you forward. Let’s begin by having a conversation. Let’s schedule a phone call for Monday or Tuesday??”
This came from Don, a graphic designer I’d become friends with twenty years ago, but had not seen for at least fifteen. And yet, here he was saying “yes” to my request for help.
So, we scheduled a call and I asked him my questions about scanning, binding, and printing. He answered them all, then asked, “Is that it? Did we cover your questions?” Yes, I said, grateful for his time and ready to let him get back to work, but he continued, “Okay, then I have some questions for you.”
This is where everything changed. He asked why I’m printing only 25 copies of my book. Why not 100 or 1,000? Why not “think bigger”? Why not consider a Kickstarter fund? “This is the start of something,” he said, “You don’t know what you’re crossing into. These may continue to morph into more things.”
It was as if the tiny voice in my mind that I work very hard to silence had called me directly. Don described what I wanted to accomplish but feared so much that I hadn’t even let myself daydream of it. And yet, here he was on the phone, totally convinced my project could do more if I’d just let it.
I must have hemmed and hawed a bit, because he left me with a final urging: “Have a vision for something bigger, even if you don’t go there, because this could be the beginning of your career path.”
Hours of phone calls and emails later, Don has taught me design basics, pushed me to draw another version and then another, and waxed poetic about font choices: “Typography has elegance. It has its own beauty. Attempt to capture that.”
I have eight pages of notes from our conversations, at least five versions of “Sometimes…,” a first book of much better quality than I could have done alone that’s almost ready to go to the printer, three more ready to revise, a few dozen more ideas, and enough skills to keep going.
I’m still four months and 47 to-do items away from having these books ready to sell, but I’m way closer than I was last July when I gave myself one full year to write and draw daily and see where it would lead, rather than trying to force things to happen.
Although it was hard to ask for help, I’m so glad I did. I think we decided to call him my “Creative Advisor,” but I like “Creative Guru.” His insight, expertise, and support have expanded and strengthened my ideas, skills, and confidence.
So, onward and upward. Much work yet to do. It’s not all been pretty, but it’s definitely been fun.