Thursday, August 18, 2005

Passion Praise

Yesterday, I got the following e-mail from Danielle Stephen, the brilliant illustrator who is working on a children’s book of mine:

“I have had a lot of time to work today. At the edge of the table I'm typing at - the dedication page is completely painted and complete. I did not know how I would feel about the final outcome - or if it would meet my expectations - or if it was going to be a lot more difficult than I thought to make it look right - but with what I ended up with I LOVE IT! I am just picturing it in print and opening a book up to this page and I just LOVE the way it turned out. It is more than I envisioned!!! It is rather large so I am going to try to find a way to scan it in portions and send it to you soon. I hope that when you do finally see it you are as thrilled as I am.

“I am also about half way finished with the next series of pages. I'm hoping to have those finished when I get time to work tonight. As long as I get a chance to work on this I will.”

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have someone bring that sort of energy and passion to work on a project of mine.

And she’s not just enthusiastic – she’s actually doing the work. In less than two weeks, she has accomplished more on this project than the other illustrators we worked with got done in two years. She hopes to be done with everything by this fall.

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between wanting a thing and doing a thing. Danielle has never illustrated a children’s book that made it into print before. That’s ok – I’ve never written one that got printed either. But she was a Top 10 Finalist in a children’s book illustrating contest. She has her Master’s degree in Art. She teaches other artists, and is a working muralist. She always wanted to do a children’s book, and when I approached her about joining in on my little project, she read the text and jumped at the chance.

She’s not worried about keeping tabs on every penny spent. She sees this project as a huge opportunity for her to do something she always wanted to do. When I approached her out of the blue (I’ve never met her. She did a mural for Paula, a friend of mine. After yet another artist bailed on our project, I asked Paula if she thought Danielle might be interested in talking to me.), she jumped at the chance.

She’s as excited about seeing this book take shape as I am. And that is the brass ring of all collaborations. When you find someone who believes in something as much as you do, that’s the person you want on your team.

So, if you want regular work in your field, the formula for success is simple. Do your homework. Hone your craft. Make contacts. Get the word out that you are capable and competent.

Then, when opportunity knocks, take advantage of it. Don’t talk yourself out of a great opportunity by telling yourself that you’ve never done something like this before. Don’t worry about being adequately compensated for your time (you probably won’t be).

Just jump at the chance to show the world what you’ve got. Let your excitement and enthusiasm show. It’s intoxicating to everyone else involved in the project.