Saturday, October 14, 2006

reach out

In this busy e-driven world, where it’s difficult—and sometimes logistically impossible—to get even two minutes face-time with the people you work with daily, have you ever wondered how you’re going to meet new people? Cultivate new friendships? Develop relationships beyond the cursory?

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you’d smiled instead of scowled at the dark stranger who nudged against you while you were on a business trip in Manhattan? What might have transpired if you’d chatted to the person spilling elbows and knees over your seat on the plane, instead of pretending to be asleep? Or what could have evolved if you’d simply reached out to someone who looked lost at an event or seminar?

I first met Yasmine about five years ago at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. I was on the Board of Directors at the time, and after the opening ceremonies I noticed a fellow writer in the audience; long black hair, long black clothes, covered in tattoos. She stood out. And stood alone, notebook in hand, looking around the emptying room.

I’m not sure she was feeling lost, but I walked over to her anyway and made a passing comment about her striking tattoos. I learned that she was a nonfiction writer like me, but she authored metaphysical books. We wished each other well and went on our way to enjoy the conference.

Almost a year later I was dawdling across the parking lot to the UPS store, eyes to the ground, when I sensed someone in front of me and looked up. The tattooed lady!

I was about to brush by her with nothing but a lazy summer smile and something made me stop. “You probably don’t remember me” I said, “but we met at the PNWA conference last year.” She remembered.

She told me she had just finished a mystery novel and was looking for an agent. We exchanged business cards, promising to hook up for coffee one day, and again, went on our way.

Back at my studio, I filed away her card for future reference. Before the week was out, she'd sent me an email, and we met up a couple of days later in one of Seattle’s ubiquitous Starbucks. Her husband, Samwise, dropped her off and politely got lost for an hour while we girls talked shop.

Another couple of days passed and an excited author emailed: “I have an agent. She loved my novel…”

Best of British I said, and meant; the business-side of my brain knowing, but not saying, “…doesn’t mean squat until you have a signed contract.”

Well she did get a signed contract, within the week, for three mystery books; quickly followed by another two-book contract for the same series; plus a new three-book contract on a second mystery series!

On October 3rd she launched her third series—this time an urban fantasy. And on Thursday, a week into the launch of her new series, she officially became a Best Selling Author with Witchling.

Friendships are intangible. Some are easy; some challenging. Some could be considered meant to be. Others may seem odd or mismatched. But I know one thing for sure. Reaching out can bring unexpected joy and good fortune into your life.

I’ve so enjoyed experiencing this journey with my friend, seeing her growth as an author and multi-series novelist. I’ve heard her highs; felt her lows. I’ve listened to her angst and fears. I know how hard she’s worked. And even through the cruelest hardships, when most people would have long ago given up, I know that she’s dreamt of this very moment for most of her forty-some years.

I’ve been as excited as she has, at each new step of her voyage … and I would have missed all that, and so much more, had I not reached out in the parking lot that day to a tattooed stranger.


Within Without said...

Bibi, this is simply heart-warming and inspiring and just engages my spirit in the tale.

And as much as Yasmine has made it on the merits of her own writing, your decision to reach out and connect with her at that conference initiated a whole series of actions that has brought things to where they are now.

It's a beautiful thing you did and it's the kind of action that sets us apart and makes us shine.

A great post that should be infectious for others. Thanks for sharing it.

andrea said...

That transported me for a few minutes. I really enjoyed perusing Yasmine's site. Reading her words about always knowing what she wanted to do was validating. And I love her "rugged individualism." I am heartily sick right now of people whose decisions are based on toeing the line, doing whatever will get you liked and accepted, and judging oneself and others on their adherence to mainstream thinking about what's acceptable/desirable and what's not. Good for her.

Recently I made a new friend when she bought a painting from me. In many ways we're very different but in the important ways we really clicked. I love that.

Thanks, Vicki.

keewee said...

Bibi, thanks for the story, you just never know where reaching out will lead. I will look for Yasmine's book.
I also enjoyed exploring her site.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

*grins* Thank you, chickie...I am honored that you took the time to write about me--truly. Our teatimes over the past...gods, how many years...since 2002 now, have been islands of peace in this crazed world.

I don't know what makes us speak up with some folks and not with others--I have a number of friendships that started on buses, waiting in line, meeting at a conference. *grins* Sometimes, I really believe that fate says, "You two need to know each other" and tosses you the opportunity to meet.

And let me say here, Vicki's a rugged individualist herself, and I like that about her. She may not have tattoos, but she stands out in the crowd just the same. ;)


Yasmine Galenorn said...

OH! and PS: I really wasn't feeling lost, I was simply thinking, "Am I really having fun here?" while I decided whether I really wanted to go to the workshop I'd been thinking about attending.


twitches said...

Definitely food for thought!

keewee said...

I ordered *Witchling* yesterday, should be here by Tuesday and I am looking forward to reading it.

Kiyotoe said...

It's true, you never know what could become of one simple gesture like "are you lost"?

Unfortunately these days, it just doesn't fit into people's priorities.

Bibi said...

W-W, thank you! Of course, I've missed many other opportunities, but you're never know where one little action might lead.

Andrea! Me too...I'm tired of being around that limited kind of thinking. My new mantra--adopted only last week--is "It's none of my business what other people think of me."

Keewee, glad you enjoyed the story and I hope you enjoy Yasmine's book. I'm still only about half way through but will finish soon!

Yazza, what can I say. ;-) Looks like we both have to set new goals next week LOL.

Kiyotoe, yeah, there's a lot of fear-based interaction in some of the communities I work in. But there are also some really good people out there!

gincoleaves said...

Oh yes, fate works in mysterious ways - I think everyone can tell a story here.
Thank you for sharing your story on how you found your good friend,
Bibi, :-)

Anonymous said...

As children we are so often warned against talking to strangers that we grow up with an innate fear of approaching people. And let's face it, it's easier sometimes to stay in our own insulated phonebooth. Your story proves that the benefits outweigh the risks. Thanks for sharing :)

Repeater said...

Loved this post. I know I've missed alot by being closed. I also know what it's like to be the girl alone in a crowd. Shyness is an affliction that takes a lot of years to overcome. I'm glad you talked about this, whatever our reasons for shutting people out.

John Ivey said...

I'm no fan of fate, but I do believe that a kind word or a reassuring smile could have the affect of enriching another person's life (or our own!) much more than we might imagine, as your eloquent article illustrates so effectively. That "No man is an island," (nor no woman) is born out by the theory of six degrees of separation, and perhaps we as individuals sometimes underestimate the affect that our behavior has on others and others beyond them and so on. Thank you, Vicki, for another wonderfully inspiring narrative. Your insight never ceases to amaze me!

Bibi said...

Thanks Ginocleaves and Becca. Yes! You never know who or what is around the corner if you dare to peek. ;-)

Bibi said...

Hi Repeater...I still have moments of shyness with certain people (hungover from childhood) but I've learned to get over it by focusing on the other person vs. how I'm feeling around them.

John...Thank you so much! And very true/no man is an island (although I sometimes wish I owned one!)

DesLily said...

when i lived in california, every sunday, I and another would go to hollywood to clean a friends star on the walk of fame. One day a street person showed up on some steps next to where we polished the star. We said hello as we approached the star. For the next few sundays he was there each time but quiet, then one day he began to talk to us as we did our work. I looked forward to seeing him, he was quite intelligent. After a few months of seeing him every sunday one day he disappeared and we never saw him again. I couldn't just let him disappear and for many sundays to come we would ask the police in the area if they knew of him or saw him. But I never did find out where he went or if he was ok... yet I never forgot the man on the street in Hollywood.

MSUgal86 said...

i like the way people come and go in our lives. it is unpredictable and often inspiring. it nice to meet and keep in touch with people who may not appear to be, but intrinsically are, very much like you.

Bibi said...

Thanks for sharing that Deslily. I had a similar experience once when I was filming in a homeless shelter and one young girl haunted me. I went back to try and find her and learn more about her story but never saw her again.