Oh snap! Somehow it’s already been over a week since my initial blog post blew up the internet like a California wildfire (okay, okay: more like sparked ever-so-subtly in a few of my sweet friends’ and families’ web browsers… but hey, I’ll take it). Regardless, I miraculously appear to still be alive — so it only feels right to give a heartfelt GRACIAS to all of you glorious readers for your encouraging comments and generous shares. It certainly gives me a bit of confidence (and more than just the aforementioned liquid kind) to just. keep. swimming.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, which really just means I’ve been spending some serious quality time with my good friends Pandora and Tom Petty. Homeboy is legit amazing. During one of my most recent solo jam-sessions, the song Learning to Fly made its way onto my playlist. Whilst rocking out to this epic tune, I couldn’t help but take pause at the lyrics in the chorus:
I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings // Coming down is the hardest thing
Hmm. Let me stop you right there, Tom. Just exactly how does one ‘learn to fly’ (or in my case: learn to write children’s books), especially without those incredibly crucial wing things (again, for me: without any formal literary experience or education)?
As I chart out my path to bringing my authorial aspirations to fruition, I find myself bogged down in the uncertainty of this whole adventure more often than I’d like to admit. What if my writing flat-out sucks? Is it even worth trying to compete with the writers that have been going at this whole ‘picture book thing’ for years? What if, after posting about my so-called ‘dreams’ on this very public blog of mine, I fail miserably in my pursuits and become the laughing stock of the world wide web (a very real possibility, my friends)? And, more practically: How the heck will I find inspiration and ideas? Do I even know what it takes to get a children’s book published this day-in-age? How do I go about building a network of literary mentors and wise owls to advise me in this brand new slice of the world?
These questions are grounds for paralysis-by-fear, indeed. Fortunately, I think there is hope for us humans-with-dreams-who-don’t-know-where-to-start. What if… wait for it… we check the fear at the door and choose to step forward in faith? Put another way (and sticking with the Tom Petty theme): What if we commit to learning to fly and trust that our wings will come?
Sounds like a tall order of cliche with a side of cheese — I get it. So, how about this? I’ll sign up to walk-the-walk and let you know how it goes. How so, you ask? Well, this month I’m going to put my main man T. Petty on repeat and jump in to a few brand new, uncomfortably exciting scenarios to flex my newborn writing muscle:
Step one: Pray. Fortunately this one is not brand new and is so super critical in laying the foundation for a leap of faith.
Step two: Attend my first children’s writing group meeting at Lighthouse Writer’s Org and mingle with (and perhaps even learn from) some like-minded literary strangers.
Step three: Commit to completing ONE picture book manuscript from start-to-finish and offer it up to my newfound group of Lighthouse author friends for live critique. That oughta be a real treat.
Step five: Find a way to meet with three different industry experts (think: editors, authors, publishers) 1:1 for coffee or lunch. At the very least, aim to walk away with a new buddy. At the very most, be fortunate enough to absorb some bite-sized wisdom from someone that knows way more about this stuff than I do.
…and there you have it. That’s my plan, Stan. I’m sure you’ll be on the edge of your seat to hear how it goes, but fear not: I’ll share a progress report with all of you in about a month. Until then, I’ll leave you with these parting words:
You can’t have all of the answers to all of the questions all of the time — but with a little bit of courage and a healthy dose of faith, you can start chipping away at your dreams one Tom Petty song at a time. Tell me in the comments (or, heck, just marinate on this question in the solitude of your own cerebrum): Is there anything — big or small — that you feel called to pursue in this season of your life, but can’t seem to take the plunge? If so, I urge you to consider taking flight. After all, who needs wings anyway?
Yours in Petty,