As a mom I have a tricky relationship with advice. Now that my oldest daughter is six I feel like I'm giving it out all day long - what I would do in a friendship situation or what clothing I would pick out given the stormy weather (the latter is always ignored!). I also receive advice all day long. I receive it from mom friends who I vent to at school pick-up, from my pediatrician whose off-hour phone line I frequently abuse, from my mom and the other wise women in my family, even from the ladies at the nail salon! For better or worse I have a pretty strong sense of self and I filter this advice fairly well, taking the bits and pieces that I need.
But a few years ago I read a piece of advice in Domino magazine that I've thought about almost every day since. Now, Domino is no O Magazine, it's a home decor imprint aimed at a more DIY crowd than decorator crowd. But Domino has such a cult-like following that when Conde Nast stopped publishing it a few years ago fans were so heart broken that the big guys/girls on the top floor decided to resurrect it. I love the magazine and was so excited to see it back on shelves. Although I still can't figure out why they're asking a subscription price of $49.00 when it's only published four times a year. But I digress.
The advice that hit a chord for me came towards the end of a brief interview with Cailtin McGauley, an amazing illustrator whose work I've long admired. McGauley paints in watercolors so vivid, fresh, and trendy that you get the feeling that, if you could physically jump into her paintings, your day would be full of sunshine, cappuccino breaks, and some amazing shopping on Madison Avenue. When asked the best advice she'd ever received McGauley answered: "Put your work out there."
So simple, right? Put your work out there. I don't know why this resonated so deeply with me. At the time I didn't have much work to put out. My magazine work was going well but I'd taken a break from working on fiction. Maybe it was more that I was dreaming of having something to put out. But then I finished Star Sisters and I knew this was the work I wanted to show. And in moments of pure fear over what people would think or how it would be received, I thought back to McGauley's advice.
And guess what, it's out there! People who ordered Star Sisters and the Royal Wedding on day one received their copies yesterday. I am thrilled! The texts and Facebook posts and emails of pictures of Star Sisters and the Royal Wedding in their homes is incredible. One of my favorite emails was from a mom I met through my four-year-old daughter's ballet class. She wrote:
"I thought you should know that we read the first FIVE chapters of Star Sisters tonight. And that Maddie chose reading another chapter over watching her nightly TV show. We are loving it so far!
Thank you so much, Jen, for a lovely evening!
XOXO, From a very happy Mama."
Thanks to all the mamas out there for their support. As our kids would say, my bucket is full. And thanks to Caitlin McGauley for that advice. Want to see how talented she is? Take a peek below at some of my favorites from her website: