When You’re Afraid, Do It Anyway


I’ve been putting something off for months. Well, technically you could say that I’ve been putting it off for over a decade. There’s a huge picture of me next to the word procrastination in the dictionary. The same is true of the word delusional, but we’ll save that story for another day. I need to find a literary agent. The thing is, I already found the one I want….ten years ago. And I still haven’t taken the next step and reached out to her by way of a query letter.

Thank you for re-directing your eyes back to this post after closing them to shake your head in disbelief and/or pity.

Let me give you a little background. At the tender age of twenty-one I completed my first novel. I sent it off to a publishing house known for producing the same genre of books as my novel. I did this cold, without the benefit of representation by an agent or any previous publishing experience. The brashness of youth was definitely on my side. Instead of going directly to the slush pile, as the astronomical odds dictated it should, the founder of the publishing company called me. CALLED ME! If you know anything about the publishing business, you know that these people don’t pick up the phone unless they are really interested. Being the young idiot that I was, I failed to follow-up and let that golden opportunity slip through my hands.

Fast forward a little over a decade and I’m finally taking my writing seriously. So I start looking for an agent. Lo and behold, the publisher from The Call is now a literary agent. Still, I don’t do anything with this information. A few months ago, while at a random writer’s group meeting in Michigan, I mention that I’m looking for an agent. The meeting organizer said that she’d email me the contact information for an agent she knows that represents my genre. You guessed it. The same agent from The Call.

God is hitting me over the head with signs that I need to connect with this person. Yet still I hesitate. I had to ask myself what my freakin’Be not Afraid problem is! The answer is that I’m afraid. This is shocking to me because I am not generally a fearful person. It’s not an emotion I’m all that familiar with. I’m afraid of animals, roller coasters and horror movies. I avoid those things, so fear is not something I feel often. I move from state to state as the whim strikes me. I’ve worked with convicted felons for years. I lived in Compton, CA during one of the most notoriously bloody summers on record. I don’t scare easily. But the act of sending a simple inquiry has had me paralyzed with fear for far too long.

I’m doing it anyway. My point here is not to simply share my own embarrassing story, but to encourage you. When you’re afraid, do it anyway. Especially when it is in your own best interests. No more living with regret. No more putting it off for another day.

I’m going to send a query letter to the agent from The Call and many more to other agents as well. In my mind I’ll be running towards the mailbox (or computer if email is preferred) in slow motion while the song ‘I Hope You Dance’ swells in the background. The song’s really old, but considering it was hugely popular at the time I should have completed this business, it seems entirely appropriate. Oh, what the heck. Cue the music! I’m dancing people…join me?


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