Some years ago, when I was promoting the Ballantine edition of my book, How Much Joy Can You Stand?, I had a fantastic crisis. It was fantastic because it reminded me of a truth as old as the hills: when all seems lost, just ask.
Basically, the worst thing that can possibly happen to an author (and a publicist) happened. I actually forgot an interview. It was just one of those mornings when I had a houseful of guests. In fact, I was busy serving blueberry pancakes when it struck me that something was wrong ... something was very wrong.
Just like Miss Clavel in the children's book, Madeline, I ran fast and faster towards my office, trying to figure out the disaster. When I got there, I fumbled through my file and saw that I'd been scheduled for an interview on a Colorado radio station at 9:05 AM, and it was now 10:05 AM! I could feel the bottom of my stomach drop out.
How was I going to face Joanne, my beloved, trusted publicist who had worked so hard to schedule the interview? And how was I going to face the folks at Ballantine who were counting on me to show up and do my part? I just stood there, doing my best to curse quietly so the children, and houseguests, wouldn't hear me.
For a good twenty minutes, I hung around my office avoiding calling Joanne. Blueberry pancakes and my houseguests were totally forgotten. Instead, my mind was full of excuses, which The Big G (my friendly name for God) kept patiently answering. The conversation went like this:
ME: It was only 7AM on the West Coast. I can't call NOW.
THE BIG G: Joanne would be at work already, as she has to be on East Coast time often to do her job.
ME: I've already blown it, right? So why bother calling anyone?
THE BIG G: You never know, Suzanne.
ME: I just can't tell her... I can't. She'll kill me.
THE BIG G: Joanne will not kill you. She'll help you.
ME: But remember the other time -- when the station gave my publicist the wrong time? Remember how mad the DJ was when I got him on the phone? That guy yelled at me!
THE BIG G: Everyone's different, dear.
Finally, I called. Joanne was not mad and certainly did not try to leap through the phone and kill me. In fact, she was the essence of grace under pressure and said, quite sanely, "The host is a really nice guy. Call him up. He'll probably put you on."
So I girded my loins again, dialed, and explained to the man why I was an hour and twenty minutes late. "Can you hold on?" he asked, and two minutes later I was doing the interview, marveling at the fact that all I had to do was ask.
So often we assume we 'know' how it's all going to turn out. We're completely certain of future results, and base our information on previous circumstances that have little to do with the here and now.
I'm here to say that we don't necessarily know a thing -- all we can do is ask and try, ask and try, no matter how scary it seems. Otherwise, the only certainty is that we've once again caved into our fear and stayed stuck, instead of moving forward.
Or, as the sign a friend has above her desk says, "Just Ask".
After my interview, I called Joanne back and told her how it all turned out. "This is so great!" I gushed, "I can write about it in the Joy Letter."
"Fine," Joanne replied. "But don't miss anymore interviews, okay? Even for your newsletter."