Today, in honor of Kate's birthday, a flashback Friday illustration! My firstborn has always been a no BS, straight-shooting, funny person. This, my friends, was what the little artist drew in first grade:
Oh, Kate. Only you.
Fortunately, there are a few good years between 29 and 100.
Hey, peeps! We've almost made it to spring -- the perfect time for a new adventure!
My newest adventure is THE BOOK. That's right. After years of talking about a book, and working on a book, I sat down and wrote the dang thing. I've hired a talented designer, and have the first draft in the hands of first readers. All systems are go.
At the end of the month, after incorporating first reader feedback, we'll move forward with beta readers, design, publication. My hope is to have Creative Instigation* ready for a late summer publication date. (And party!)
But, first ... one of the lessons learned in the process: Insecurity is real and praise is lovely.
Case in point: I've made a living as a writer for 40 years. You might think I'd be fairly confident re: my talents. You might be wrong. Sending my firstborn draft to first readers? Very intimidating. Fortunately, my friend Mark B. is one of those readers, and his response came with this subject line:
"Lovely, Jan. ..."
How perfect is that? I knew -- immediately! -- that he liked the book. Huge relief. I could open the email without terror. Did Mark have suggestions, comments, critiques? Absolutely. (And I knew that too, from the ellipses.) But I could more readily absorb the feedback, because of the positive start.
On the other hand, another first reader -- also a lovely person, because why would I give my book to a shmuck? -- started his comments with, "I've read the book and have some feedback." AIEEEEEEE. Terrifying. I was hesitant to respond at all, but finally said, "OK. Do you hate it?"
At which point he laughed and said, "I love it, I just have a few comments." It hadn't occurred to him I would doubt the overall goodness of the book.
People, people, people. When someone -- of any age or experience -- shares a creative work, please please please be lovely. Start with a positive.
"I really like your use of color in this drawing." (Rather than: "What is this?")
"Your imagination is wonderful! Where did you get the idea for this story?" (Rather than: "Your grammar really needs work.")
"It's so nice to have a home-cooked meal! Where did you find the recipe?" (Rather than: "Did you read the recipe right? This tastes weird.")
If you can't find something nice to say, try harder.
*Still working on that subtitle. The book compiles the best of some 1,300 blog posts, along with exercises and surprises. If you have subtitle ideas, please send them my way.