Last month I went public with a dream: to assemble my columns and gardening essays into a book. I posted my idea on Instagram and mentioned it in my end-of-year newsletter. No, a book deal did not magically appear under the Christmas tree, but little hearts and comments of support did, and that support, that small cheering throng, gave me hope.
Then one person messaged me.
The message read: “Yes, yes, yes. Do it! I’m more than happy to share what I know about the process if you ever want to talk. You are unbelievably talented and I have no doubt you will get a book deal!”
The message was from Floret.
Did I nearly drop my phone? Did I read that message ten times to make sure it was real? You bet.
If you don’t know Erin Benzakein, the woman behind Floret, you should. She’s a highly successful teacher, designer, writer, photographer, farmer and businesswoman who has created (on only two acres) America’s favourite flower farm. She has hundreds of thousands of followers and in my mind, she’s the face of the farmer-florist movement in the United States. Her book Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden is due out in March.
We spoke before the holidays and I wanted to mention our call here because parts of our conversation may resonate for you as they still do for me. Erin said, “success doesn’t happen easily for anyone. It didn’t happen easily for me.”
When I asked about her being featured in magazines including Martha Stewart she said, “we pitched it. I’d write, pitch, write, pitch.
“I put a book on my personal goal board about seven years ago. It was something I wanted and needed to do. Every year I’d have some kind of personal project. One year my goal was to get 50,000 words about flowers published. Another year, it was to blog every day.”
If you’re getting the sense that Erin not only dreams big but acts on her dreams, you’re right. The woman is a force of nature (picture a strong clever vine not a tornado). “I wanted to do good in the world. Flowers are a tangible way to make a difference.”
I agreed. But how could that help me? Precious and distractible dilettante that I often am. Brushing up against Erin’s words empowered me, but I didn’t really know her personally save a few passing words at a workshop. How could I admit I was scared to fail? That if I contacted a publisher or an agent, I might get turned down? It had happened to me before with a memoir manuscript eons ago and the wound still smarted. If my sweet little flowery book dream—the one that kept me afloat through underpaid column after column—died, I wasn’t sure what to do. Worse: I might lose hope about who I might become. Big stuff, but such are the machinations of an inspired and aspiring mind.
Enter a little app called WOOP which stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. It’s free and kind of fun. I learned about it on a podcast called Hidden Brain. After my call with Erin I had a couple great action steps, but I still had that fear, that obstacle. WOOP helped me plan my way around it.
My WOOP plan is a whopping eight words long: Just do it. Trust in talent. Take steps. Erin’s words reinforced my resolve: “Nothing is going to happen to you. You have to make things happen.”
That may sound simplistic, but in a culture that is long on positive thinking and short on realism, most of us eventually realize we can’t just ‘dream it and do it’. So before January got away from me, I committed to sending an email. I sent it this morning. Not a long one, but an important one. Why? Because I know that rejection or not—I have begun. I have opened myself to whatever happens next.