Here are a few things I hate: forming relationships online, spending money, and making plans.

It took me a week to email Virginia. Each day I stalled, I reminded myself that my fear was stupid. There was literally no risk in sending an email to ask a few questions. Maybe she wouldn’t even respond. Still, I had the sense that Virginia was not only going to respond, but she’d illustrate my book, and I had yet to mentally prepare myself just how much money I was willing to spend. I also didn’t have a plan for what would happen once the illustrations were in hand.

We emailed back and forth a few times. Conversation was good. I sent her the text of my story. She loved it. We seemed to understand each other, but I was very guarded. She was a stranger on the internet, and I was getting closer and closer to sending her a bunch of money. Why? Because I liked her art. What was I going to do with these illustrations once (or if. Hello, stranger on the internet!) I received the illustrations? Self-publish? What does that even mean? What self-publishing company would I use? What did they all offer? Sure, I’ve done some research, but did I do enough research? Shouldn’t I be more responsible than this?

I kept going to that same chapel where this all started, knowing I needed to see Jesus and those little candles to keep from going insane.

Virginia and I spoke over Facebook video, and she was a delight. She provided everything I needed to keep moving forward—a timeline, a budget, and most importantly, enthusiasm and joy. Seeing her face assured me that she was a real person with real integrity. And really, she ended up taking the bigger risk with me since she sent me half the illustrations before I sent her anything. We signed a contract in November 2019.

Nothing was better than sending that first batch of money off. It was more than I wanted to spend of course. I wanted to spend exactly $0 if I could get away with it. But now that I had invested something tangible, I was finally in and finally moving forward.

I’m not much of a risk-taker, so while taking this leap was scary to me, I was surprised how peaceful it was once this one decision was made. The anxiety of the risk all came before actually taking it. Now that I was no longer staring at an incalculable risk, I could enjoy the ride God placed before me, trusting it would ultimately lead to someplace good. I didn’t need to understand it all. God knew I just needed a few parameters—a few closed doors—so I could focus on the doors still open.

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