The Diva of Delay.
Not only do I miss out on opportunities to advance my career, but being tardy for the party goes against my belief to always be prepared for the things I wish for, and dream of and pray for.
This past Saturday I was a vendor at the Makeover Madness event at Cheltenham Mall in Philadelphia. Promoting breast cancer awareness, the all-day affair featured a zumba presentation, blood pressure screenings, a salsa demonstration and a head-to-toe makeover. I almost didn’t make the event. In fact, I registered for it right before the deadline expired. A part of me felt that hawking my book Escape from Beckyville at a benefit for breast cancer was crass, akin to handing out business cards at a repast. I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t promote Makeover Madness in advance or publicize that I was a vendor on my blog and social networking sites.
My stalling superpowers were in full effect the day of, as I arrived thirty minutes late to the Cheltenham Mall. Teens and seniors wearing pink hats and ribbons passed the table that Lola and I were hurriedly setting up, part of a breast cancer walk that ended at the mall. One young lady came over and pinned a pink ribbon on my blazer. As I scanned the other tables, I was relieved to see several writers promoting their wares. I walked over and chatted with Peta-Gaye Taylor, author of To Get a Job Blessing You Must Go through a Job Testing, a spiritual tome about faith and endurance. The young writer, who is also a middle school English teacher, recounts a story of rape and depression, culminating in deliverance and restoration. We bought each others books and swapped contact information. I left her table feeling that maybe I was in the right place after all.
I’m not a salesperson, not by a long shot, which is why I’m so thankful that Lola, my “momager” agreed to accompany me on this cross-country journey. Her good friend Edwidge, or Eddie as she is known, hipped her to the Makeover Madness event and thought it would be the perfect venue to sell my book. For five hours that day, Eddie and Lola stopped shoppers laden with bags or cradling babies to hand them Escape from Beckyville postcards. Many times, my mother’s friend tugged at people’s elbows and directed them over to my table to “meet the author.” Those impromptu encounters didn’t always result in a sale, but at least I was able to share my story. And I was able to take a crash course in self-promotion. Eddie is a businesswoman extraordinaire, emigrating from Haiti more than 30 years ago to make a better life for herself and her family. For several years, she had a career as a dancer and was able to save enough money to bring her relatives to America. She is now the owner of a thriving daycare, North Wales Academy, and is in the process of expanding to several locations. When I asked the entrepreneur what gave her the courage to stop folks in their tracks to pitch a product, she replied that she has a thick skin, and she never takes “no” personally. I kept her advice in mind as potential customers approached.
Had I the courage to shatter the force field of delay that seems to encircle my life, I would have jumped at the opportunity to vend at the Makeover Madness event. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I could have blogged about the importance of early screenings and breast self-exams. Had I a bit more foresight, I would have partnered with Women of Faith and Hope, one of the sponsors of the breast cancer mall walk, to donate proceeds from my book sales to their organization for the month of October. I know I need to do better, which is why I recently wrote down my six-month goals for the Escape from Beckyville book tour. It’s hard to prepare for the things you’re hoping for when you can’t remember what they are.
Even though my day at the mall got off to a belated and half-hearted start, my attitude changed an hour into the mission. I stopped viewing myself as the writer equivalent of a Z-list actress showing up at any and all affairs and started to embrace the idea of sharing my story at whatever venue will have me. People can’t support a project of which they’re unaware, and books need lots of friends. As if confirming this mental and spiritual shift, I heard my name mentioned from a nearby speaker. WDAS-FM, a beloved Philly radio station I grew up listening to, came out to cover the Makeover Madness event, and they gave me and my book a shout out on air. Twice. Then Mimi Brown, an ageless radio personality with over twenty years experience in the business, came over to my table to meet me. Had I been a bit more prepared, I would have powdered my nose and de-fluffed my afro before the cameras flashed, but I take my photo ops wherever I can find them.
There’s a success principle based on a scripture that says, “Act as if you’ve already achieved any goal you desire.” I keep reminding myself that I’m already a successful author, that my words are already making a difference. Spiritually, I get this. Mentally, I have a lot of catching up to do. Even after my wake-up call at the Cheltenham Mall, the Diva of Delay still wrestles with her dreaded superpowers. I was supposed to post this article early this morning, but better late than never.