I’ve been studying author photos for as long as I’ve been reading books. I’ve dreamed about what mine might look like one day; the clothing, the hair, the color scheme, the interesting background artistically faded out behind me. The best part of this dream was the pampering squad who would descend upon my room and bathroom to help get me ready. All of this would be paid for by some big publishing company, obviously.
I wanted to be discovered, swept away in a whirlwind of publishing deals and deadlines and glamorous speaking opportunities. I wanted to be asked to write and invited to speak. How were people and organizations supposed to know I was available or interested in offering these services? I have no idea. I never said it was a good plan.
I waited and waited and waited. Shockingly, nothing happened. Last June, God’s whisper turned into a shout and I knew I had to start this blog; without being asked, without being invited, and definitely without being paid. I love how Jen Hatmaker puts it in, On Becoming a Writer,
“Do you know who asked me to write my first book? Zero people. No one said, you should do this hard thing or we really want to hear from you in print form. Writer: 1, People Who Asked Me to Write: 0. I wrote for two reasons: I wanted to and had something to say.”
I didn’t just write without being asked, I asked to write. I wrote to editors of sites I’ve been following for years, sharing my writing with them and asking if I could write for their sites. Each “yes” sent a rush of excitement through me. I spent hours upon hours writing and editing and rewriting for free for other people’s sites. Each time I wrote something that was published I promoted the heck out of it. The publicizing of my work, and therefore myself, felt awkward and gross. It was (and is) by far the worst part of this whole endeavor. But you know what? It worked. I got asked. I got invited. I got PAID. And then I promoted those pieces like crazy. Ick factor and all. Then more people asked me to write and more companies paid me for my words. These past six months have been some of the most exciting, stretching, rewarding, challenging, FUN months of my life.
I had a photoshoot yesterday. It was quite similar to the one I’ve dreamed of, except do you know who paid for it? I did. I used my first paycheck in five years to pay for the photographer and all the appointments that go into looking pretty for photos. I went all out: hair, nails, makeup, spray tan, eyelash extensions, a new dress and cute accessories. I was faker than a Real Housewife of Orange County by the time I was ready for my close up. I thought I might be disappointed that my dream didn’t play out exactly how I’d imagined it, but I wasn’t disappointed at all. I felt proud and accomplished.
If you have something you’ve always dreamed of doing but are waiting to be asked, invited, discovered or paid to do it; JUST DO IT and get the word out about it when you do. You’ll feel sleazy, I promise you, but do it anyway. I recently heard a quote “do it scared,” as in even if it makes you scared, do it anyway. I’ll take it a step further (because that’s what I do) and say; “do it sleazy.”