This is Abby Mathews. She's the mom/writer/photographer/videographer/podcaster who is producing the MomWrites Podcast, which will be launching next week. (You can listen to a sneak peek HERE...Wait. Is it a sneak peek when you listen???)
Abby just went back to her home in Rhode Island after spending three days with me in my house (and my neighbor's house, and at the beach, and at Starbucks) shooting marketing videos for the podcast, and taking photos, and staying up late to brainstorm and plan and dream. We had so much fun and produced a TON of great content we can use on the website, the blog, and social media.
But here's the interesting thing about this story: I really only just MET Abby. I barely even KNOW her! This is only the second time we've been face to face. So how did we come to spend three days living together and producing content -- an intense experience under the best of circumstances?
It was a whole series of people saying YES.
The first time, over Mother's Day weekend, Abby said YES when I held a meet-up in Boston. She drove an hour and a half to have coffee with me and some other writers, even though she had never purchased a single thing I sell -- not a mug or a book, not a webinar, not a class, not a workshop, not coaching, nothing. She was just a fan of my blog, a writer trying to make her way, a lifelong learner trying to figure out this novel-writing thing. And something compelled her to make that drive.
The second YES was Abby's, too. After the meet-up, I wrote to ask her why she had come. Why had she driven such a long way when she was not even a paying client? She told me that YES she would answer but it would take her a few days. I thought this was odd -- but carried on with my life and my work.
A few days later, a file arrived in my inbox. It was a podcast that Abby has produced -- a full-length professionally produced podcast with music and an interview with one of my Author Accelerator coaches and voice overs and intros and outros. It was all about Abby's fear of working with a book coach -- her fear of admitting she needed help, of choosing to trust someone. It was also a pitch for me to produce a podcast with her to show other reluctant mom writers the benefit of working with a book coach.
The pitch was this: I coach her and her friend Melanie, who were each struggling with a different thing (Abby with starting a middle-grade novel, Mel with revising a sci fi fantasy) and they produce and market a podcast to amplify the reach of what Author Accelerator is all about.
I don't say yes to very much these days because I simply can't. I am very busy coaching writers and running Author Accelerator and developing curriculum for killer new programs and speaking and writing this blog and guest blogs and all the other things I do. I barely even say yes to sleep. And, in fact, I had recently made a promise to my overworked and overwhelmed Author Accelerator team to say NO to ALL NEW THINGS because too many ideas, no matter how brilliant, can sink the ship.
I happen to be a person with a million ideas a minute. It's hard to execute a million ideas a minute. So I promised my team NO.... but as soon as I heard Abby's podcast, I knew I would say YES. It was full of spirit and energy and can-do mojo and I loved how audacious she was to do it.
So we set out to make this podcast, which will launch in a week or so. We have recorded the coaching process every step of the way, and it's been intense -- tears and laughter and migraines and whiskey (you'll have to listen to find out what THAT was about) and all kinds of tough love. We have 25 episodes done, some of which include interviews with some amazing mom and dad writers. Even though I have had to squeeze it in, it's been so much fun and I'm so pleased I said YES.
A few weeks ago, Abby emailed to say one of her friends was getting married in California and hey, I live in California, so maybe she should come shoot video? I said YES come! Stay with me! Do it! Three seconds later she asked if her husband could come too and I said YES! Bring him! And she bought plane tickets and arrived on my doorstep. (My sweet husband said YES too, by the way -- "Hey honey, you don't mind if the podcast lady and her husband comes to stay for three days, do you?")
We shot video of managing editor Laura Franzini talking about Author Accelerator's magic human-centered book coach matching process.
We shot video of Abby talking about why she was so reluctant to ask for help and what help has felt like.
We shot video of Author Accelerator coach Lizette and her writer Lorrie Tom meeting in person for the first time after six months of book coaching (I will share that video as soon as Abby unpacks and can get it to me... it was SPECTACULAR.)
We then shot video of the two of them talking about their coaching process and, well, sex and Little Joe from Bonanza, if truth be told.
We shot video of me and author Lauri Taylor talking about life and death and writing with mascara running down our faces from all the tears.
And we took a LOT of photographs.
Abby taking a long shot of me at my computer in my neighbor's kitchen.
A stealthily-shot photo at the Starbucks near me that they renovated and reopened last week
Abby and me saying hello via video to Dan Blank, who happened to text while we were working, and Dan is one of the dads who appears on MomWrites so we had to ping him
The point of all this?
Say YES to creativity. Say YES to being open and willing to try something new. Say YES to the thing that scares you.
In her wonderful book, The Art of Asking, (if you haven't read it, read it. Drop all the other books on your list and read it) Amanda Palmer talks about this for about 250 pages, in eloquent, moving, powerful words. She says:
“American culture in particular has instilled in us the bizarre notion that to ask for help amounts to an admission of failure. But some of the most powerful, successful, admired people in the world seem, to me, to have something in common: they ask constantly, creatively, compassionately, and gracefully. And to be sure: when you ask, there’s always the possibility of a no on the other side of the request. If we don’t allow for that no, we’re not actually asking, we’re either begging or demanding. But it is the fear of the no that keeps so many of our mouths sewn tightly shut.”
“When you accept somebody’s offer for help, whether it’s in the form of food, crash space, money, or love, you have to trust the help offered. You can’t accept things halfway and walk through the door with your guard up. When you openly, radically trust people, they not only take care of you, they become your allies, your family. Sometimes people will prove themselves untrustworthy. When that happens, the correct response is not: Fuck! I knew I couldn’t trust anybody! The correct response is: Some people just suck. Moving right along.”
“Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing.”