In a word. Oy. I can’t believe it’s two weeks in, and I’m already pulling my hair out. I knew this thing wouldn’t be easy. I knew as a virtual unknown with little following in the literary world, that I had my work cut out for me. And I might not succeed at all in meeting my goal, getting all fifty states on board and visited within a year’s time. But I also knew I had the state of New Jersey in my back pocket right from the get-go, so I refused to let anything faze me. I approached this like I approach any other challenge I set for myself. With wide-eyed optimism and dummy donuts for breakfast.
The idea for the video to get the ball rolling, came out of the blue. Like one of those lightbulb moments. And I loved it from the start. It was a project unto itself where I spent hours upon hours of time and putting on make-up that I wouldn’t normally bother with, while trying to have this mumbo jumbo two-minute script memorized so I wouldn’t keep looking off to the side every other second at my cheat sheet, like an bleepin’ idiot. But once I finally had it down pat, once I felt that it was as good as it was going to get, I released it. Again I was under no great illusion here that this would be my ticket to ride. That after a reasonable amount of time and people spreading the gospel that this cute little old lady author was available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs . . . that the other forty-nine other states that I did not have in my back pocket, would come banging down my door. Let alone knock.
Yes, I had a lot of shares, a lot of buzz and plenty of views over these past two weeks. But that’s it. And with time ticking (remember this challenge has a shelf life of 50 weeks), I immediately turned to Plan B: Meetup.com. In case you’re not yet familiar, this is the go-to website for anyone, anywhere looking for every conceivable type of social club or activity. A group to go hiking with, people to have drinks with, go to the movies with. Seriously, it’s great! When I moved to California not knowing a soul, it was a perfect way for me to meet new friends. And I did.
And now I believed it would also be a perfect way for me to go from state to state, introducing myself and my little book to as many clubs as I could find; all without ever leaving the house or changing my jammies.
In my mind, it couldn’t be any easier. Having so many opportunities right there at my fingertips, in such a centralized spot. It reminded me of the good ole days when I sold insurance for a living. Wow. Talk about pounding the pavement. Jesus. Un-believable. I would drive around for hours looking for business parks and literally go from door-to-door, in the hot Florida sun, all decked out in my professional skin: suit and heels. Just praying to God that someone would eventually feel sorry for me and buy something.
Anyway, I’m getting off track here a bit. I think the point I was trying to make is that I was so hungry to be successful, that I was willing to do anything. To put up with anything to get the job done. And despite the passage of time, I’m still that tenacious girl, and this job for me would be no different.
So I stuck to the plan. I created what I believed to be the perfect email. (I’m the writer, remember?) And day by day, in those spare clips of moments between editing my next book and helping take care of my granddaughter, I began to work my way through the website. Starting off though with the state of Florida for the simple reason that’s where I live. And as luck would have it, I found over ten clubs within a twenty-mile radius of my house. Wow. Another bonus, I remember thinking as I sent off the emails, as I waited and waited for a single reply. One day, three days past without hearing a word from any of the organizers. And when the fifth day came and went I began to get a little panicky. Thinking oh boy, something’s definitely wrong here. Maybe the emails didn’t go through. Maybe they got deleted somehow. And just as I was about to repeat the entire process all over again, because what else could I do, I finally received a response. A response I had not expected.
“Our club is meant for serious readers ONLY. Do not bother us again!”
Wow. If that didn’t burst my bubble, the next email that came a day later, sure as hell did.
“It is our club policy not to allow authors to attend our meetings. It’s too disruptive. I’m sorry.”
Too disruptive? Is she f**cking kidding me?
Needless to say, as much as I wanted to argue with the wall, I had no time or choice but to plow on. This was after all still my Plan B. A plan I still felt confident would work, complete with good odds, forty-eight other states to try, and a fresh batch of dummy donuts waiting for me on the table.
So on I went. Back to the computer. Doing an Internet search for the biggest cities in Alabama before proceeding once again over to the Meetup.com site. There I managed to locate one club in Birmingham, one in Mobile, and nothing, I mean nothing in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Dothan. This didn’t make me at all happy. But I shot off my whopping two emails anyway and repeated the process for Alaska and Arizona.
As you can imagine, Alaska isn’t exactly the book club capital of the world either, but Arizona certainly made up for the first two states, and in spades. Yielding over fifteen clubs. I was thrilled. And after I shot off all those emails, after I noted each club into the excel spreadsheet I’d created to keep track of all my doings, I began to feel as if the door was finally opening up, and things were heading in the right direction.
Yes, that was me yesterday afternoon at around 3:30 pm. All hopped up on those dummy donuts and giddy throughout the day and into the night. Right up until 8:00 pm when things went seriously south faster than Superman and a speeding bullet after I received an email from Meetup.com advising me that I could no longer use their site. My account was now shut down, locked out, and in other words sista, here’s the boot, screw you and go figure out another damn plan. Because this one . . . ain’t gonna fly.
I felt like crap. I could not believe this was the attitude and the perception I was now forced to face. How did I go from a million opportunities to zero in a blink? From easy peasy to what the hell do I do now to find all these clubs? I wanted to scream. Because honestly, nothing else seemed suitable for the occasion. Yes, perhaps I was having one of those melt-down, kick in the ass moments reminding me that nothing from nothing in this life ever comes easy. Especially those things worth having. Only I couldn’t concentrate on that. I couldn’t because I was still blinded and too caught up in my own small world of frustration to allow this wonderful message of resiliency to wrap itself around me.
But . . . that was yesterday. And today, well, like they say: it’s a whole new day. Another opportunity. Another chance to shine and make this thing happen. The only problem for me right now is, I seem to be coming up a little short on my next course of action. Plan C.
Any suggestions? I’m all ears.
Photo credit: Flickr themanwho66-