A “Tiny” Book Project
Years ago, I was approached by an editor from a well-known publishing house. She had seen the Tiny Acts of Kindness calendars and wanted to see if I could turn the concept into a book. When I received her email, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had never given any serious thought to writing a book before that. Me? An author? An illustrator? It was never even a thought. Not before that email at least. What I did want was to spread the message of Tiny Acts of Kindness and what a better way than to put it in a book. I was in. The next step would be to prepare a proposal that the editor could present to her team.
I scrambled for ideas. I didn’t know how I would structure the content or what style to use for the illustrations. Most importantly, I didn’t know how to weave it all together into a book format. All I knew was that I wanted to put this proposal together, quickly, so that the book editor would still be interested in working with me. I put together something I felt was good enough and submitted it before she could change her mind.
As I was working on the book proposal, I was overcome with hopes and dreams for the future for Tiny Acts. This passion project was something I truly believed in and to think that I could potentially share the message with thousands of people would be beyond amazing. I started thinking of ideas for spreading the message beyond calendars and books. I thought about greeting cards, journals, art prints, even apparel. I was excited and incredibly optimistic. I told myself that if the book proposal is approved, I would move forward with these plans. Spoiler alert: putting all my hopes and dreams on just ONE thing was a huge mistake.
After I sent the proposal, I anxiously waited for the editor’s response. Days went by and the anxiety turned into knots in my stomach. I sent a couple follow-up emails and heard nothing –crickets. When days turned into weeks, the anxiety turned into despair. I wanted this book deal so much and piled all of my hopes and dreams onto it. I needed it to validate this idea of mine. I needed it to feel that the idea was worth pursuing. Not hearing back from the editor felt like the universe was giving me a big, giant, red STOP sign in my face, telling me that my dreams were foolish and I should just go back to what I was doing. Knowing what I know now, it was extremely absurd to think those things. But in my weaker-hearted state, it was exactly what I felt to be true.
If you read my last post, you know that I went inside for a season of self-discovery. It was in this season that I took small, painfully slow steps to discover who I truly was at my core. I always had inklings of what I wanted to do but never really knew why. And during this season of slowing down, the little voice inside grew louder and it started telling me why I do what I do, why I am who I am. The voice was telling me these things: I have a desire to uplift and inspire because I truly believe in the potential for goodness in everyone; I see the beauty in everything and I want to share it with the world; art and writing are the channels through which I express myself and when I hold back, my health and my spirit suffer. It was through realizing my why that gave me unwavering faith and the conviction to start creating again.
Then one day, a friend told me that I should write a children’s book. I was flattered and said to myself that I would one day, sometime in the future. I still had the bad taste in my mouth from the publisher’s rejection and it didn’t even occur to me that I could publish a book myself. It wasn’t until months later when I heard someone suggest it again and something just clicked. What was I waiting for? There was no reason why I couldn’t just start writing now. I could self-publish this book instead of going through a traditional publisher. I had all the tools: I loved to write, I could illustrate, and my background in design allows me to do anything from layout, to printing, to branding and marketing. What I really needed was permission and on that day, I gave it to myself.
I happened to be on a flight home from a conference that afternoon and something strange happened. I started getting ideas in my mind, actual words for the beginning of the book. I took out my pen and started writing. What happened in that moment was pure magic. The words just poured out of me. I wrote and wrote and wrote and by the end of the short flight, I had finished the entire first draft of the book! I read it back to myself and cried. It was as if the words were not my own, floating in another realm somewhere and waiting for the day I had enough courage to put pen to paper. And the moment I did, the words rushed down to fill my pages. I still cry when I read the words out loud. I’m in love with the words I had written that day and cannot wait to build the book, page by page, until it’s in my hands.
Back to the biggest mistake. I had put all of my hopes and wishes, my beliefs, my life, on a single event. I needed external validation to tell me that what I believed in my heart was worth pursuing. When a single person said no (or didn’t say yes) to my idea, I retreated back into my shell where it was safe. It took a long journey inwards for me to build up the inner strength to believe in myself again. I needed that strong why to take action, to do what I wanted to do. And once I handed myself that permission slip to move forward, I realized that everything was already within me, all the tools I would ever need to accomplish my goals.
To the ones who gave me encouragement along the way, you were my lifeline when I was drowning in a sea of self doubt. For you and for everyone else, I promise to bring this book to life as I dedicate early mornings, late nights, my heart and my soul to it. I know now that it’s not just that I want to write this book, it needs to be written. I can’t wait for the day to share it with all of you.