This past week there’s been yet more evidence in my world that it doesn’t hurt to ask – or at least, that it’s worth the work to do so. Sometimes I’m reluctant to ask for something. I’m afraid of rejection; I’m afraid that the person I ask will feel pressured, or will think less of me; I’m afraid that asking for something they don’t want to give will damage a relationship, or a future opportunity. Did I mention that I’m afraid of rejection? Yeah, I think I did.
Still, it’s worth facing that fear and asking. A few weeks ago I asked a business about interviewing employees for an article I’m thinking of pitching. The request was kicked up to the VP level and back down, and it came back “yes”. The wait made me anxious – did they think I wouldn’t do a good job, or I’d tell company secrets, spill proprietary information or embarrass them? Obviously not, because they okayed it.
My friend Gordon is speaking at the PWAC conference. He asked for help with his expenses, and he got it. He also got a writing job he asked for. This doesn’t surprise me one bit, by the way, because he’s got a lot of writer cred, and is also not shy about asking. Still, two good responses in one week is a very encouraging result.
I also have a three friends who received grants from the Northern Writers’ Works-in-Progress programme through the Ontario Arts Council. That’s a clear-cut case of getting only because they asked. No arts programme comes knocking at your door saying, “Hey, we heard you had a pretty good idea – want some money to develop it?” No, you have to fill in the forms, write the sample pages, assemble the package and get your butt down to the post office to mail the application on time. For Tracy Spurway, Angie Gallop and Paton Lindsay, it worked. All three of them now have some serious financial support for their writing.
Over and over again I see the good results of asking. Waiting to be discovered and rewarded for the amazing writer you are just doesn’t cut it. I’m pretty sure that even Lana Turner’s discovery (on a barstool at a drugstore soda bar) was a set-up, just for the myth of the thing. Maybe I’m a cynic, or maybe I’m a realist.
What I do know is this – asking is almost always worth the trouble. It’s a way of marketing yourself, and it must be done. This past week five of us in one little writers’ community found out how well that works.