I finally get to talk about I'd Rather be Short. Openly! It's not a yeah-but-don't-tell-anyone-else-yet sort of thing. A lot has happened in the last three months. There has been scheming. Late nights. Too many emails. Twitter explosions. Contracts. And more claw hands than ever before. I'll start at the beginning.
I had this idea to do a series on the perks of being short. A) I needed to tell myself that it is okay to be a LITTLE different. B) I wanted to empower others to do the same. C) Since I'm always the shortest friend, I am always the one to get the wonky NPR articles on shortness. I knew there wasn't much out there because I would have gotten it as a link or gift, so I D) capitalized on it.
I had the idea a year and a half ago. I casually mentioned it to some friends (silly short perks plus illustrations). I put it off for the whole year because I didn't know where to start. I always wanted it to be a book in the back of my mind, but I was very careful not to say that out loud. Around New Years, I reflected on goals and what I wanted to make happen for 2012. I made fewer, but bigger goals: run half marathon, write and illustrate this book (published or not), paint a mural and stop biting nails.
I ran the half marathon in March and after the race I had some sort of post-running depression. Besides the fact that this race was over (it was a HUGE deal that I was able to run that, by the way), I also got to see far away friends, go to Mardi Gras, and SXSW in the month or two before. I felt like all of these monumental things were over at the same time and I didn't know what to do with myself. I decided to do a marathon of drawings starting in April. In April I would do 30 IRBS illustrations. I only got 15 done, but I worked really hard on them. Though the first few really sucked, I knew it was better to start somewhere then than start somewhere later. At the end of the month I figured out the style that I liked. I didn't reach the goal, but I got started.
When April was over, I knew I had enough material to submit to literary agents. This is mostly because of my friend Chad. He already knew about the business. I confided in him what I wanted to do and he got on board. We spent three hours writing a cover letter, bio and summary to send to agents (mostly agentquery.com). I spent a couple of weeks refining which drawings to send off, proofread work and research the agents that were the best fit for my project. Finally I submitted. I sent the email out and hoped I would hear back from somebody in a few weeks. Anybody.
The next morning I got an email from Laurie. She loved it. I told her that I needed a couple of weeks to think about it and send it to more agents before deciding on who I wanted to represent me. I talked to several in the next 10 days and had some offers. My problem was now "which agent do I choose??!!" (A champagne problem, if you will). I talked to Matt in Austin and he gave me lots of good advice. I started a Twitter account, @idratherbeshort.
I told Laurie that I wanted to work with her, and I haven't looked back. We spent three weeks writing the proposal and sent it off to 12 publishers. A week later we had an offer. There were rejections but there was also interest. Last week (while in Chicago), the book went to auction and I had several bids. I went with Plume and I couldn't be more thrilled.
What are the chances that I would get the wonderful news when I was with my family. I'm only seeing them twice this year, and I got to be with them on Navy Pier while I talked to Laurie and reported my decisions immediately after making them. I couldn't release any information about the publisher until Tuesday morning, which is when I posted it on all my social media outlets. God has blessed me. He's given me hands to draw with and people to tell me that I should keep going.
I was hoping to write this in two paragraphs. Ha! I will have so much more to say as I think of it now until November. Or Fall of next year. Or whenever I want to write more. I hope none of this sounds braggy. It has been a really amazing opportunity. I hope that this give you hope to pursue that nagging dream you tucked away.
1. Go! Don't wait a second longer! Just start.
2. Be protective of your dreams. It's necessary to share them with others, but don't do it until you're ready. We are all naturally self-indulgent. Don't expect anyone to be over the moon for what you've been stewing over for weeks. Also, watch this three minute Ted Talk about why we shouldn't be loose with sharing our goals.
3. Become a little delusional for a little while. In the back of my head I always knew this was going to turn out well. I don't know what gave me that odd confidence, but for some reason, I would work until 2 or 3 AM. Just to do some silly IRBS blog post for like 100 readers. That is crazy, but crazy was necessary.
4. Run a really long race that you will probably hate. It gave me a renewed sense of "Yes I can!" It gave me structure and discipline, which was just what I needed to begin this new endeavor.
photo via Fred One Litch