“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
One year ago today, I bought my domain name and committed to one year of website hosting. I fully blame my girlfriends for talking me into it. I had a vague notion of what I was going to write about—my art adventures. After I got my website up and running, I found that while I enjoyed what I was doing something didn’t feel quite right. I decided to continue the art adventures and quiet the blog side of things while I sorted out what exactly felt off.
Within a couple of months, it became clear that I wanted to channel all of my energy into writing and illustrating a children’s book and starting an Indie-publishing imprint to publish my own work. The goal was (and still is) to maintain full artistic control of the project. This required stepping back and making a list of everything I need to know to make the Indie-publishing side of things successful. (This is one big list.)
Just as I was starting to get my LLC organized, I decided to take what appeared to be a detour that ended up not being a detour at all. One day in September, while I was setting up my new equipment to use for importing my illustrations, touching them up, and designing interior book files, I felt intensely that I needed to know more than what I’d gleaned from six months of research—I wanted to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes in book making. I decided that afternoon to enroll in a certificate program from UCSD for copyediting. That decision and the first class in the program changed everything I thought I was planning. It was a decision to use my degrees and formal writing training in a more focused way.
Was that a harebrained decision? Perhaps. Little did I know that I’d find my tribe and greater focus in the process of pursuing a specialized certificate in copyediting.
So, the LLC that sat in limbo for a few months took on a new focus. It turns out that I don’t want to stop at publishing my own work. I want to work as a freelance editor to help other writers perfect their manuscripts. I have one quarter left of classes from UCSD, and I’m training now for my first freelance editing gig. I couldn’t be more excited. In the midst of all of this, I’m still finishing the illustrations for my first book. I always thought my first book was going to be a novel or a collection of short stories, but no. The path I’m traveling has taken me to the world of children’s book writing and illustrating.
During this past year of personal and professional growth, I’ve benefited tremendously from the wisdom of those who have traveled similar paths. I’m so grateful for all of the help and encouragement I’ve received. I’ve always been something of a transcendentalist loner with her head in the clouds of imagination and possibilities all of the time, but my goal for 2017 is to not be a solitary practitioner of the arts—it’s to get out there and connect with others more than I do.
Next week, I’m heading off to a national convention on editing—a Comma Con (yes, you see what I did there). I’ll be around other professional grammar nerds, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s a little intimidating actually. It’s much easier to stay home and not force myself to try new things, but where’s the fun in that? In August, I’ll be attending a conference for children’s book writers and illustrators. Newness and the unknown are all around me right now. I’ve even joined a local art guild and try to meet up weekly with fellow artists to encourage each other as we practice our art. I’ve also connected with a local writing group that meets once a month. It’s been wonderful to be surrounded by others exploring creative expression.
It’s been daunting starting so many new things at one time, and yet, as I look back over my education and experience and where life has taken us, I see this is the direction I was moving in all along. I just didn’t know it.
The single most terrifying step of this process was the very first step—the step of recognizing I wanted to do something new and not knowing what it was. It was operating on faith that where I was heading would be revealed in time. It was this day, one year ago—the day that I bought my first domain and web hosting. The rest hasn’t been easy, but I haven’t fought it. I move with the tides and changing currents. When I’m not sure of the next step to take, I wait. Sometimes the wait is long, and that’s okay. My first step felt much like a giant leap into an overwhelming sea of change in the beginning, but that decision to be all in set me on the path to starting my own business and finding a new purpose.
If there’s something you feel you need to be doing or changing in your life, maybe you should trust yourself to take the first step. A year ago, I didn’t see any of this coming. I thought I went off on a tangent in September by starting school, but I trusted the gut feeling that it was what I needed to do—even if it took mental gymnastics to make the choice seem logical at the time. It may feel like you’re taking a left turn and getting off track; but, if life and living in the Charlotte area have taught me anything, sometimes you have to turn to stay on the road you want to be on. (Queens Rd and Park Rd, here’s looking at you!)
Enjoy the adventures, my fellow explorers!
PS This post and this site? They’re my second website and domain that I bought. My original website has become my business page. I wonder where the next year is going to take me and my work.