Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Existential crisis

Every once in a while I'm struck by the enormity of what I'm trying to do here with this book/etc. project. And while I'd like to say I greet it with a hearty "heigh-ho" and eager relish for the challenge ahead, sometimes it's more like paralyzing panic.

And that's what it's been during the past day or two. The truth is, the book is the easy part of this whole endeavor. At least the writing of the book. It's the "etc." part -- the marketing, the distribution, the PR, not to mention the workshops and speeches -- that's huge and fear-inducing.

Like this morning I see that this big communications company is putting on a conference in December on business writing. I look at the agenda and think I should be on it. But I'm not. Because I'm not known to this organization. And because I don't have the presentation and publishing credentials that the people on the program have.

And I spend all this time beating myself up for the things that I haven't done until it finally occurs to me that it's unrealistic that I would be a headliner at a major conference that's asking $800 a day from participants. That's like, as an actor, expecting to perform on stage at Steppenwolf my first year out.

Which I kinda did.

But I was stupid then. I need to be smarter (and more realistic) now. And patient. And I need to take some simple steps. Which I started doing this afternoon once I had that epiphany. I joined a professional organization I've long put off joining. And I started reaching out to my network and talking to people who have tried something similar and just getting back to a reasonable approach to this whole deal.

And I wrote to this small, family-owned publishing group and got an immediate, very positive response. There are a million and one hitches and considerations to work through, but it is still profoundly heartening.

So while I always have to be wary of mistaking activity for action, there is a tremendous amount to be said for simply putting your head down and working through a problem in small steps. And staying positive.

I keep thinking about the whole "It Gets Better" campaign going on now. I have always, always found that when my plans are stalled or I'm feeling directionless or in personal despair, the simple act of doing something works. It always does.

No comments: