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The lifecycle of creative activity. We've all lived it:
It starts with an idea that leads to a process that becomes a book or a play or a faster computer; a film or the latest trend in teen fashion; a painting or an innovative new way to teach.
Its development spawns many unexpected experiences along the way to realization, and brings with it sufficient highs as well as innumerable lows – doubt, rejection, failed attempts, multiple revisions – before the day it finally falls into the hands of others. Then, it begins to take on a life of its own.
Much to my surprise, this has also been the path of fulfilling our Kickstarter promises, which, now in the rewards creation phase, continues to kick my butt with its downs, elevate me with its multiple ups, and excite and surprise me with its numerous twists and turns.
I was with an author friend the other day. As we chatted, the topic of my recent Kickstarter campaign came up. She rolled her eyes, puffed air through her lips – very French – and said,
Kickstarter is full of artists and authors hoping to by-pass the gatekeepers and self-produce at the expense of quality. Why should I pay someone to self-publish a book that an agent or editor doesn’t find it worthy enough to get behind? That’s why we have gate-keepers!
One week ago today, on the last morning of our 38-day Kickstarter campaign that involved four live events and uncountable networking meet ups, taking me first to Florence, then from London to Nashville to New York to Rhode Island, back to New York, then to London, then Paris, and back to London again, I awoke at 4:30am GMT with a start.
It had become commonplace for me to sprint for 16-18 hours a day between dog walks and 4-5 hour nightly naps. Some nights I didn’t really sleep at all, merely rested, while going over the to do list again and again in my head. I was running on sheer adrenaline by this point – that and the fumes of way too much caffeine ingested for way too many days that coursed through my veins and caused my nervous system to fritz out at even the slightest provocation. I was exhausted, but exhilarated and unwilling, unable to stop, because one thing was clear: The crowd was behind me. YOU were behind me. I now had a responsibility, not just to myself, but also to the TTT&T Team, who had all worked so hard and given me so much, as well as to a community of supporters that was expanding daily with every new campaign backer, twitter follower, and Facebook friend.
On the penultimate night of the campaign, I stopped work early – at about 8:30pm. I couldn’t hold my head up any longer, couldn’t will my fingers to type another word. As I closed my computer, we had only $750 left to raise. I felt certain we would make that goal by midnight GMT the next day. I fell to sleep quickly and slept soundly...
Captain’s Log: Campaign Date 23.
I woke this morning with an odd sense of calm, a sensation I haven’t felt in weeks. For fifteen days, we’ve been in the doldrums, steering our ship through the murky middle of this campaign. The way forward hasn't always been clear. Certain routes we expected to be lined with gold, gave us only copper. The ticking of the clock grew louder with each passing day even as the hours seemed to slow.
My own sense of time has been warped by late nights and early mornings, jet lag, and a to-do list that just won't quit. My body suffers from the effects of way too much caffeine and way too little exercise, making sleep elusive. My left hand, now smothered in Tiger Balm and wrapped in a splint, has seized up from all the typing of guest posts and press blurbs and thank you notes and direct appeals to the as-of-yet-unpledged. Progress is painful and fraught with typos, and still I can't manage to get it all done...
It was an amazing, exciting, incredible first week!
We had a memorable party to kick it all off at KidLit TV in NYC, which we can all now relive here.
We reached 60% of our pledged goal in 6 days!
Now we enter the campaign’s inevitable “murky middle."