I would often beat myself up over my fear of starting an organizing business. But over the last couple of years, I’ve come to believe that when the timing is right, things will happen. One of the things about “the right timing” is that you can’t really predict when that will be. Which I think makes it more exciting when the time does finally arrive.
A few members of my writing group were attending a course at a local adult education center on writing memoir. These were women who had traditionally focused on other writing forms – fiction and poetry mostly – so they were excited to discover the talents they had in this other arena. Each time they came to writers group, they would rave about the instructor and the assignments they had been given.
Their excitement did two things for me: it caused me to reminisce about my own first memoir writing experience at the John C. Campbell Folk School and it also stirred in me some curiosity about this adult education program.
A few months earlier I had come back from a conference for those of us with a business idea that are “stuck.” While there, someone helped me to come up with a fabulous title for an organizing class I could teach at an adult education center. We were encouraged to teach at places like this because you can test out your ideas on a group of people and build your confidence in your knowledge of your subject matter.
So when my fellow writers raved about their memoir course and other courses they had taken at this place, I went on the web site to see what it would take to teach there. I was thrilled to see that you didn’t have to submit a course proposal – you could just call them with your idea. I wasn’t a fan of blindly submitting an idea – get me talking, though, and people love me. So I called and left a message saying I had an idea for a course.
When I was called back the next day, the woman asked me about my idea. Then, she asked my experience. Here’s the thing: I’d only ever been paid to help someone organize once. But “experience” does not always mean “paid.” So I told her honestly about my background. Then she asked about my teaching experience. On this, I was golden. I’d taught in adult ed programs before, and I was teaching a college course at that very moment.
She loved my idea, but then said, “The committee that decides on courses for the spring meets tomorrow. There’s a form you’d have to fill out. If I e-mail it to you tonight, can you get it back to me by tomorrow morning?” Ah, a deadline. “No problem,” I said.
I titled my class, “You Can’t Take It With You….And Your Kids Don’t Want It Either.” My description started with, “You may have an empty nest, but does your house still look like the entire flock lives there? Is every closet filled, but you’re not sure with what?” I had a grand time filling out the form, and I sent it off.
The woman called me back the next day and said, “When I read about your course, everyone on the committee was either laughing or sighing because they all know they need to take it.” I was in!
When the course calendar arrived a couple months later, I saw my words in print. Oh how exciting!
There was only one problem: I had a course to teach in a few weeks, and had yet to plan out what I would tell these folks.