That’s what a bookbinder said when I described my vision for producing The Twelve Gifts of Birth book. After listening to how I wanted to bring my manuscript into the world with full-color illustrations, high-quality paper, a hard cover, and a die-cut that would offer a “peak-through” from one page to the next, he first said nothing. He just fanned through the pages of my primitive, hand-made “mock-up” and shook his head.
“You’re nuts, lady,” he then said. “There is no way you can do this. Your book will have to retail for at least, oh $40. Maybe $45. And no one is going to pay that much for this little gift book!”
The business owner went on to advise me to cut back on the features I wanted and to scale back my vision, way back.
“You might want to… not produce this book at all,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, not much text here. I hate to discourage you, but I think this project might be a waste of money.”
I could hardly leave the premises fast enough. And yet I could barely walk, due to the way my knees were shaking. My hands were shaking too. My whole body was trembling, in fact, with shock, hurt, fear, disappointment, confusion.
Just as I got into my car and pulled the door shut, the light sprinkling of rain I had driven through on the way to that meeting burst into a heavy downpour. While rivulets of water streamed down the front window and around my car, tears flowed down my cheeks. Not trusting myself to drive with poor visibility due to the conditions both outside and inside my car, I sat in the parking lot and waited for the storm to pass.
Am I nuts? I thought. I questioned the feasibility of my dream and my visions for it. And, as I did, the “weather” within me matched the weather outside, dark and dreary.
And then, out of the blue, an image of a humble, yellow building appeared in my mind. I recognized it as one of the laboratories where Thomas Edison had conducted experiments. The historic structure was not far from my childhood home in New Jersey. During my teen years, I had driven by it many times. It always seemed to call for my attention. Often, when I passed it, I wondered about the actual day-to-day work that had been done there. What discoveries had been made? What failed attempts had happened there? What disappointments and frustrations had been experienced?
And, with the image of that little lab in mind, I wondered how many people had said “Your nuts!” to Thomas Edison in some shape or form.
I reminded myself that my meeting with the bookbinder was simply an exploratory step on my publishing journey. I did not yet know the exact steps I needed to take to make my dream a reality. However, I felt certain that small steps would eventually bring me to my goal, even if some of those steps seemed to be missteps. Clearly, having my books bound at that business was not going to be part of my publishing plan. That was actually a good thing to know. That was a gain I had made that day.
The best gain, however, was being filled again with courage, even more courage than I had previously felt. I resolved that day, even if I heard again and again that I was “nuts” or “unrealistic,” I would continue to take steps toward my dream. With renewed and deepened courage, I felt certain I would reach my goal, just as Thomas Edison eventually found the right filament to create the electric light bulb.
Fifteen years after my exploratory visit with that bookbinder, The Twelve Gifts of Birth and subsequent series is approaching one million books beautifully made, reasonably priced, and sold successfully. It turns out: there was a way. The idea was do-able.
How are you feeling about your dream? Have you ever gotten to the point where it looks impossible?
Consider what Thomas Edison said: “Nearly every person who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it seems impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”
He also said, “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” And, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
Might Thomas Edison–his example and his words–be a courage touchstone for you too?
Blessings for all your dreams. May you be deeply en-couraged!