Just because I watch Law & Order doesn’t mean I can practice law.
I have watched every episode of Grey’s Anatomy for seventeen years, yet I still have no idea what a Whipple is, every time they schedule one in OR 3.
And the arrogant swagger of a Monday morning quarterback is alive and well, after every game, every week across the country. We all do it.
Reality check: Simply because talented people make something look easy doesn’t mean it is. It means they are talented. They have mastered their craft.
So, just because I read books does not mean I can write one. Even if I (really, really) want to.
Writing is a profession. NO different than accountancy, medicine, teaching, or engineering. There are certainly people who have natural skills. Though that alone won’t them into the game. Similar to any other career, an aspiring writer needs to learn the craft, find a mentor, build a network, make mistakes, understand the process, and watch people smart people do it well. Daily.
Over the years, I’ve been nudged, encouraged, even complimented a time or two. And so, I thought I could go from clever with a turn of phrase to celebrated for my talents.
I put 78,026 words in order, around a given topic and punctuated it properly. Since then, I’ve been sitting here, waiting for Reese Witherspoon’s people to call and set up a meeting.
If you look up hubris in the dictionary, you will see my picture.
Once reality settled in AND I apologized to the universe, I decided to come at this dream differently. The dream hasn’t changed. The approach has.
There will be no massive leap from here to there. Instead, there will be a path, taken one step at a time, in a specific direction. Intentionally. A path that requires me to do the work, learn the lessons, stumble more than once….. and try again. And again.
With the decision to craft a path (not skip important steps), I decided to start where I am, build on what I know and put one foot in front of the other.
All of this takes me back to the snack-filled little house and the little dog in Wisconsin (Postcards From The Road #1)
Legend has it, that many good things have emerged from that little house at the end of the street on the edge of the park over the years… smart kids, multiple novels, great parties, big ideas, abounding love, and launch of the Tall Poppy Writers.
For a month I had the opportunity to sit in that little house with the little dog under the canopy of changing leaves and snack on dried apricots. I soaked it all up and let an idea take shape. A plan started to come together.
A path started to unfold.
Do you know of the Tall Poppy Writers? Surely you do… For the three people on the planet who don’t, let me give you the cliff notes version: Founded by best-selling author Ann Garvin, The Tall Poppy Writers are an innovative, impressive, group of female authors who exist for the purpose of supporting each other and sharing wisdom. Cross genre, new and long established. Generous, funny, insightful women who will tell you when you have spinach in your teeth, will straighten your crown and tell you (gently) that yours is a story but not a book, that you need therapy, that you can do it if you try and will cheer loudly when you do. They are women who write, are traditionally published, and who gather to generously share their wisdom.
They have worked tirelessly for 10 years to build the Tall Poppy Writers into the force it is today. They have been all in, each devoting their time and talents, fueled by the same goal. Somewhere between writing their own books, blogs, podcasts and sick notes for their kids, they parented, balanced careers, baked cookies for treat day AND took on a project within the Poppies to keep it going. They managed the social media, launched each other’s books, wrote articles and listicles (I don’t have any idea what that is, by the way), gathered at Poppycons, supported each other and invited in new friends.
They believed in each other and the power of sharing their wisdom.
Ten years unfolded and no different than any successful project that took energy, a 24/7 commitment, and borrowed space on the dining room table, the early Poppies and their founder did exactly what needed to be done to nurture and launch an innovative concept that has disrupted the industry.
However, that pace is not sustainable, for anyone, for any reason, for any length of time.
All those successful, legendary companies and bands that were started in a garage…. Eventually moved out of the garage and hired a CFO.
The Poppies needed to do the same. They needed to move out of the (metaphoric) garage.
And that’s the moment when the universe stepped in and swiped right.
In my non writing world, I’m a brand strategist. I’ve done some coaching. I’ve built a thing or two. I can be bossy.
The universe matched us because……
My skill set happened to be what could be helpful to the Poppies: a distiller of a brand, a planner for growth, a framer for a sustainable model and a little bossy.
The Poppies are what I need to move from storyteller at a party to author of a book, with my name down the spine and a spot on your nightstand.
And so here we are…. Today, I serve as the Queen of BS* for the Tall Poppy Writers. (*BS stands for brand strategy, in case you were wondering). In this role, I have a front row seat to generous wise women. I soak up brilliance just sitting there in the same room/Zoom, I have a mentor, and a network, a peak behind the curtain, and access to proper training. All the things anyone needs to navigate and succeed in a new field.
I help to frame their plans. They help me with my writing.
There are exciting new chapters ahead, in more ways than one, for all of us.
As the snow blew in last fall, I drove south from Wisconsin, cozy on the heated seats. My car was loaded with a beach bag, pictures of my kids, snacks, a passport, laptops and flipflops. I couldn’t see out the rearview mirror, but the road ahead seemed clear.
My head and my heart felt lighter somehow. There was a sense of energy and purpose in this new plan that felt right. It might have been the apricots, but I think it’s bigger than that.
I am no longer sitting passively, waiting for luck to find me. I am actively working towards learning. Trying. Stumbling. Doing.
I found myself in awe of the moment when the universe decided to play matchmaker. If you have spent anytime swiping, you know that what prompts a match is often a mystery. It might have been my skills, it might just be timing, or it could be the shared love of apricots.