by Anna Huckabee Tull
Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.
The other day, something happened to me that was just exactly the kind of small miracle Marie was always pointing out to those of us who lovingly followed her blog. The serendipity of it was amazing. And the really incredible part is, I believe, in its own unique way, that this little bit of wonderment came through Marie. Or at least, most certainly, directly because of her.
The story, like all good stories, has three parts: something wonderful, something hard and overwhelming, and then something wonderful, just in the nick of time!
Something Wonderful: A couple of years ago I attended a conference on how to write a book proposal. I sat in the audience and felt this little shaft of light shine down on me as the instructors from a publishing house I loved, Hay House, explained not only how to write a great nonfiction book proposal, but announced they were holding a contest. From among the seven hundred or so participants that day, they would review all the book proposals submitted and select one for the grand prize: a publishing contract with Hay House. A voice rose up clear inside of me that said, “IT CAN BE ME!” I went home, worked hard, wrote my book proposal, submitted it, and…I WON! Imagine that, I thought to myself. I won!
Something Hard and Overwhelming: Okay, actually, it turned out that I won third prize, not first prize, which gave me a publishing deal but no marketing to go along with it. I’ll worry about that once the book is written, I thought to myself. And in I dove, writing and writing, for two full years, until I had a luminous manuscript, professionally edited, that I was and am astonishingly proud of. It’s called Living the Deeper YES and someday in the not-too-distant future, when it is released (June? July?) you will likely hear more about it. I sent the manuscript to twenty esteemed colleagues. I got vibrant, rave written reviews and endorsements. I heard from the publisher that my book was fast approaching the final proofs stage, and would be up on Amazon soon thereafter. And then it hit me: I have absolutely no idea how to market this book.
I scrambled. I called friends. I started skimming all the oversized, overwhelming, threatening-looking gnarly-teethed marketing books that had been gathering dust on my bedside table for two entire years. I got a call from my publisher about a very expensive marketing package I could purchase that might–or might not–make a meaningful difference in the launch of my book. But mostly, I just hit a wall. I had known this day would come, but I felt paralyzed, on my own, and unsure of how or when or in what manner and at what cost I would need to put myself out there in all the right ways. I paced around my living room. I bit my nails. I slumped in my chair and started wondering to myself, Why did I think I could do this?
Something Unexpected, Just in the Knick of Time: On Monday of this week, an email appeared in my inbox from one Eve Bridburg. She is a powerful presence on the Boston writer’s scene, the founder of GrubStreet – a writing community that writers from all around the country come to join in and be a part of. I had met her before, through Marie. Eve let me know that I was being gifted with a ticket to their annual conference, a workshop of successful writers talking to up-and-coming writers about all aspects of creating the work of your dreams. She shared that Marie and Marie’s husband had been strong supporters, and that they had an all-access pass that Marie’s husband had generously offered up for my use if I wanted it. I knew all about this incredible event because Marie had once brought me along as her guest, and together we attended it for an entire weekend, back before I had ever written my book. I remembered that it had lots of programs to help writers get going on their manuscripts. And even though I didn’t really need that any more, I decided to accept the gift. Because it felt like a connection to my friend, who I miss. Because it was a generous gift and I wanted to be a generous recipient. And because, you know, what the heck? It’s all good people…
But this morning, I had this nagging feeling that I should take a closer look at the actual offerings – choose from among the classes, even though they were, as I clearly recalled, just designed to help writers get started writing.
But I was WRONG! As I slowly rolled down the offerings, in session after session I saw everything I could possibly need for this marketing stuck-place I have been in: A Publicity Primer for the Newly Published, Media Training, Understanding Amazon, The Relationship Between Bookstores and Authors, Navigating Book Publicity, and on and on and on. Tears started streaming down my face. How was this possible? Guidance, from professionals, all at my fingertips, all at absolutely no cost, all available this weekend! Right now, exactly when I needed it!
See? I heard Marie say to me. We’re still helping each other, you and I. Last month, you asked all my friends to keep looking out for my children. I desperately needed that message to go out. This month, I’m sending you straight into your answers on the book thing. I’ve been trying to get you to look at that session list for the past three days! Just go, I’ve been telling you. You’ll see. Nothing to worry about. Everything works when you let it.
I know. I know Marie is gone. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and perhaps you do too. I know it was Marie’s husband and Eve who sent me this gift. And I am so glad they did. But I also know it was Marie. And if you’re still reading this, you probably do too.
Because that’s what Marie was always telling us: Keep looking. Follow that little feeling – the one that tells you to look left instead of right this time. Look closer. Step forward. Trust that something good is there. Dare to start seeing it, and experiencing it. The world is filled with wonderment, with serendipity, with answers, with magic, and with reasons to say…YES.
~Anna Huckabee Tull, for and with Marie