Andi Cumbo - Writer, Editor, Online Writing Courses, Classes & Lessons

Competing with Tutankhamon – Disappointment and the Day

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We had plans; boy, did Mom and I have plans.  There were hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and a big bonfire in the fire pit, complete with s’more makings.  We had my white radio with the primary colored buttons out on the deck.  We cleared up the driveway and made the bathroom sparkle. Even my little brother chipped in.  8227896522

50 invitations to my 13th birthday party, and I was sure it was going to be a huge success.  This would be the thing that launched me into my teenage years with all the popularity, locker-side conversation, and boyfriends I could handle.

Then, Tutankhamun came to town.  On tour. With all that gold.

5 people came to my birthday party.

***

Today, today, I’m very tired.  It’s been a busy week for this writer – a book launch with such kind people who wrote such AMAZING things about my book God’s Whisper Manifesto.  Two great chapel services with the young men at our local military school, where I got to see them honor the people in their lives who have battled cancer, where I watched them tear up and stay standing while hundreds of their classmates lit candles.  A meeting of the amazing Relay For Life of Fluvanna planning committee, a group of people so committed to fight cancer that they dedicate a good portion of their time to it for nine months a year.  A Twitter chat with folks from my book launch.  New students to take my classes. Such gracious comments from you, my readers.

An amazing week, one that I am so grateful for.

And yet . . . and yet, I am discouraged and disappointed.  I had this image of ending this week with hundreds of book sales (so far, I’ve had two) and tens of thousands of new dollars for the American Cancer Society.  I dreamed of this absolute high by today, an elation so big I could almost float to the Virginia Festival of the Book later this morning.

This did not happen.

I’m still tired. I’m still jealous. I still wish I had sold 500 copies of my book.  I still wish an agent had called with a great offer for You Will Not Be Forgotten. 

And yet . . . and yet, I smile. Because today, I get to spend the morning writing and then hearing other writers speak.  I get to have lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends. I get to read books I love and walk this gift of a mountain.  I get to feel the kick of glee when one of you comments here, and I get to know – in the deepest, truest part of myself – that I am right where I need to be – huge book deals or not.

I get to trust that the Heart who gave me these dreams will make them real, one day, one shiny, glorious day, at a time.

***

I have this photo – I’m sitting on the couch with my friends at my 13th birthday party. We are eating cake and ice cream, and I’m wearing this atrocious hot pink, acid-washed sweater.  We are all laughing.

What are you disappointed about today?  Where do you find hope?

 


***

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Author: Andi

I am a writer, editor, and writing teacher whose most recent book, The Slaves Have Names, tells the story of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised. When I'm not working, my husband and I are working to make our small farm - God's Whisper Farm - a retreat here at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • http://dailygallen.com tim gallen

    as one who also is jealous of the apparent “successes” of other writers, i wanted you to know this is just what i needed to read this week.

    as you know, my brothers and i launched our kickstarter campaign for our web series. it’s only been a few days but i thought for sure – for sure! – we’d have blown through our goal in no time because, well, how can anyone hear about our project and not want to support it, right? right…?

    but no. we still have a ways to go to reach our goal – but we’re getting there.

    i also have been hit and miss this week with finishing the draft of my novel. i want to finish it but don’t want to rush it and sometimes i sit there wondering where the heck these characters want to go. sometimes i wonder if i should scrap it all together and start something else.

    regardless, life is good and i find hope in the action, the work. i try to remember that blog comments and pageviews are not the reason i write. i write because i must, because i want to, and because i love it. the craft is not always easy – nothing worth doing ever is – but it’s mine.
    tim gallen recently posted…Fiction Friday: Burning QuestionsMy Profile

  • http://marthaorlando.blogspot.com Martha Orlando

    I sure can relate about the sale of books at book signings. Mine haven’t been as well-attended as I had hoped, but I trust that all is in God’s timing. So, I don’t allow myself to be disappointed, I look forward in hope and faith.
    May your book enjoy much success, Andi!
    Blessings!
    Martha Orlando recently posted…How Many Hats Do You Wear?My Profile

  • http://8thdayfiction.wordpress.com/ Brian

    King Tut’s a punk. Just sayin’.
    Brian recently posted…He Had Hundreds Of ThemMy Profile

  • http://www.rethinkingpatientsafety.com Lee Tilson

    An important business meeting fell through yesterday. It was cancelled at the last minute for the fourth time. All the reasons seem legitimate, but I keep wondering what is wrong with me. Nothing hurts that much.

    A dear wise friend tells me that nothing is wrong with me. She points out my business virtues. That seems to make it worse. If I have all that going for me, then the only possible explanation of the series of cancellations is that something inside is terribly wrong with me. What is it? If someone would tell me, maybe I could fix it. No one will.

    When I read Andi’s story about the book sales, I am reminded of lessons I learned years ago organizing a music festival for my children’s school in downtown Detroit. No one owes me anything. Everyone is busy, perhaps overwhelmed, trying to deal with their own problems. If I want their help with my event, the first children’s music festival in the area, I needed to make the festival good for them.

    My sight were set on the Center for Creative Studies Music Program. Children taking lessons there worked with the very best teachers, teachers with amazing credentials. The piano teacher, Johnny Allen, received a Grammy for arranging Isaac Hayes’ Theme from Shaft. The bass teacher shared pictures of his first professional gig, playing bass with Billie Holiday when he was 17. Commitments to perform at my festival from these legends guaranteed instant credibility.

    The enormously positive conversation about my festival with the head of the Center ended abruptly when he asked: “How much can you pay my guys? They are too old to stay up to 3 AM playing at the jazz bars. They make their money giving lessons on Saturdays. I cannot ask them to give up their best paying day of the week for nothing. They are too good to not be paid.”

    Failing to anticipate that inquiry, I struggled to keep the conversation going. Finally, I blurted out a question: “What’s your biggest problem?”

    Michael, the head of the Center for Creative Studies Music Program responded: “Newspaper articles. No one writes newspaper articles about us anymore. Every time we ask someone for money, they want to see newspaper articles about us. Newspapers don’t seem to be interested in writing about kids taking music lessons.” Michael had to go.

    A week later, I began my pitch: “Michael, have I got a deal for you.” Michael asked how much money I had for his guys. “I’ve got something better than money: publicity. A week before the festival, we will have a press conference at the school. You will be there. The sole purpose of the press conference is to explain that the Center for Creative Studies Music Program would anchor the next week’s festival.”

    Michael committed. “We’ll be there.”

    My strategy for organizing events changed. My new mantra was: “How do I make this good for you?” Two thirds of the musicians asked that question agreed to perform. Corporate financial support doubled in the week before the festival. The festivals grew over the next five years.

    The life lesson from the festival comes from the conversation with the head of the music program. Most of us are swimming upstream as hard as we can to meet our obligations. As much as we would like to freely help others, we worry about our futures and our children. We worry about our own good causes. We struggle daily with being overwhelmed with problems. It would not be rational for someone with limited resources who is struggling to devote fewer of his resources to his own struggle.

    Can we find a different way to bring allies aboard to help us? What if their sharing resources with us helped them solve their own problems? What if their sharing resources with us gave them needed publicity, volunteers or funding sources? What if their sharing resources with us created more opportunities for them to succeed in the problems they were already addressing. What if the collaboration made their lives easier?

    What does this “lesson” have to do with anything Tutankhamon?

    First, I have decided to get the book. I am getting the book not for Andi, and not for the book. There are millions of authors selling books. There are more great books than sticks to shake at them.

    What I have learned is that her writing opens doors in my heart that help me accomplish my goals. My reading the book is going to help me solve my problems. When I get done reading, I will share the lessons learned.

    You see, I don’t need another great book to read. I do not need to learn about another great author. What I do need is to find my path. I struggle to find that path. The more I learn about the clarity of Andi’s vision and the success with which she has harnessed her passion, the more convinced I am that she will help me open the door in my heart.

    Look at the best seller lists. So many books about how to help readers solve their biggest problems: obesity, financial investments, business success. The few books on the best seller lists did little for me.

    This book is guaranteed to be written much better. If Andi’s blog posts are any indication, this book might help me solve my biggest problem.

    If you want a best seller, write something that addresses a problem of conscious concern to an enormous number of people. If you want to help people, share with them how you found the truth in your own heart. Thank you Andi.