So I had a chance to speak with Bella Andre recently, and she pretty much shocked me with two things she said. To me, each of these three things contain important lessons that any writer – or really any creative professional – can find value in.
- Even smart ideas fail. And fail hard.
The first time I saw Bella speak in person was nearly three years ago. At the time, she explained the process she developed to have her books translated into 8 languages and introduced to new international markets. Beyond being insightful and positive, you had a wonderful sense of her business acumen, and what it took for a writer to brand out to find new opportunities.
When I spoke to her recently and mentioned this, she immediately told me that this initiative failed. She said: “I did what should have been the right work. Unfortunately… almost across the board it turned out the translations were not good. I had to pull every book I paid for.” And the entire failure cost her tens of thousands of dollars, and clearly a lot of her time. Evidently, it is very difficult to get decent translations. And she said now – three years later – she is finally able to implement a system that she feels addresses these challenges.
If she finds incredible success in this initiative, likely her three years of effort will be washed away and hidden by quick tips for other authors to follow in terms of translations and expanding to international markets. But for her, she had to not just have the initiative to explore, but the gumption to learn, to try again.
And for me as an observer, even though I was so unbelievably impressed at her idea three years ago, I have to be aware of the hard realities of what it takes for someone to actually try to execute on a great idea. There are hidden failures that we never see, and it is up to the creator – in this case Bella – to make something of it and not let it stop her.
- It’s astounding what one person can do. You don’t know your limits until you break them.
So I tried to read as many Bella Andre interviews as I could before I had the chance to speak to her. From my research, I knew that she had a habit of sending individual emails to hundreds (thousands?!) of her fans around book launches. I learned a lot about the scope of her work, that she has an economics degree from Stanford, and that she was a singer-songwriter. But I didn’t know that she ale writes under another pen name. That, even with her already impressive output as a writer, that was only PART of her total output.
Our chat took place in front of a live audience online, and there was this moment where people went from being “Wow, I am super impressed with Bella,” to “This woman is not human, she is a superhuman.” That moment is when, after talking about so much of what she works on day after day, she made a casual mention of dropping her kids off at achool. You could just sense people’s jaw dropping. And one person in the audience even left a comment such as: “Well, that’s it…much excuse was kids, but now I don’t have it anymore.”
In the end, the audience left comments like this:
- “Stunning. So beyond where I’m at. It’s like she’s from another planet. “
- “She’s just so smart – it boggles my mind. “
- “I feel like a TOTAL slacker!”
- “Does she sleep?”
- “Can we please bottle her energy?”
Oftentimes a writer’s biggest barrier is themselves. The false limits they construct for reasons that only exist deep in their psyche. What talking to Bella showed me was how much of the hard work is often hidden from plain site.
I know that is why the community here at Writer Unboxed is so amazing – where writers are showing up everyday to help out other writers.
If you read this and think “well, this is all well and good for Bella, but I can’t do this because _________,” then please tell me, what is your big excuse?