I did a hard, brave thing last week. I emailed an acquaintance — a successful, well-respected author whom I’ve never met in person but know casually from online interactions — and I asked if she might be willing to “broker an introduction” between me and another successful, well-known author whom I don’t know at all and who doesn’t know me from Eve. I am hoping (read: beg-praying, wringing hands, Lamazing) that this person might be willing to read my Luther and Katharina manuscript, and, if he approves of it, might consider writing a foreword for it.
Yes, writing this email with this request to an acquiantance I admire and respect but don’t really know felt exactly as awkward and uncomfortable as it sounds.
It was little consolation that this kind of request is not unusual. In the business world it’s called networking, but here’s the thing: networking takes place not just at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, but in Christian publishing circles, too (though I’m guessing with fewer Hugo Boss suits and, I’m assuming, a more generous helping of ethics).
I do not like this part of my job. ANP (Awkward Networking Phobia) is partly why I am a writer in the first place. This is why I have chosen a job that largely consists of sitting alone in my house at my desk overlooking the finch feeder swaying from the river birch tree. This is why I am not an investment banker or a financial advisor (besides that fact that I very nearly flunked Calculus my freshman year in college, because of course it makes perfect sense that an ENGLISH major would take Calculus, right?). Nevertheless, networking — or if you prefer a more Christiany word, “connecting” — is indeed part of my job from time to time, which means on some days, I have to take a deep breath, place my fingers on the keyboard, and make the hard, brave ask.
And so I did. I wrote the awkward email to my acquaintance. And she in turn graciously made the request of her author friend. And now we wait for his response.
“It seems that so much depends on listening to the quietest whispers…And so much depends on following, even if we drag all our fears and doubts along for the wild ride,” writes Christie Purifoy in Roots and Sky. “I don’t think following Christ is like aiming at a tiny bull’s-eye on a diminishing target. We are not in constant danger of missing the one right road God has mapped out for us.”
I know it might seem like a stretch to say that writing an awkward networking email is somehow part of “following Christ.” But strangely, I do see the connection. Writing this book has been an act of obedience to God; seeing it all the way through from start to finish to the best of my ability is an act of obedience, too.
It’s highly unlikely this author will say “yes” to my request, and despite my hand wringing and Lamazing, I understand that his “yes” or “no” is not really the big-picture point. As my editor assured me after I’d sent him a hyperventilating email, there’s always a Plan B.
The point is that I did the hard thing. I was brave. I stepped into a vulnerable place, and I dragged all my fears and doubts along for the wild ride. I risked being rejected. I risked feeling small. I leapt into the unknown, the land of no guarantees.
I am doing the work, regardless of the outcome. And I am trusting that no matter what happens, no matter what the author’s answer is, there is more than one right road unfurling ahead of me.