Dear Laekan

Motivation & Inspiration

Before I got my agent, when I was still daydreaming about the moment all of my hard work would meet the right opportunity, I did everything I could to make my hope a tangible thing. I put sticky notes on my computer at work, set countdowns in my Google calendar, and even wrote myself a letter. A letter speaking about the future as if it had already happened, each word a stitch in the fabric of this dream, slowly making it real.

Everything in that letter was true and honest and heartfelt. All I had to do was write it all down, believing every word and the sentiments behind them were going to be my reality. Without a doubt. And then wait… But more importantly, trust. Trust that I had done all I could to prepare myself for this moment that belonged to me.

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Dear Laekan,

Five months ago, you decided you were going to make your dream of being an author a reality. You gave yourself 18 months because you like structure and deadlines and making things seem real far sooner than they actually are. You like to dream, those dreams so much sweeter when you can measure every step, every mile that you covered in spite of your doubts and fears and anxieties. They did not stop you. And now you’re here. Today, you have reached another milestone you’ve been dreaming about. You got an agent!

It feels surreal and you’re trying desperately to temper your emotions (the way you always do). I get it. You’re afraid to feel excited because you think that good news is always followed by bad. That one step forward means two steps back. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something terrible to swoop in and steal this moment from you. As if losing it now would be worse than having never gotten it at all.

But stewing in your worries makes you a thief too. Because every time you give in to those fears, you steal your own joy. You hold it captive, waiting for everything around you to be absolutely perfect before you set it free. But if it can’t be free, neither can you.

Over the next few days and weeks, allow yourself to feel everything you’re so afraid to. Pride. Joy. Excitement. Hope. Lean into them, not because they’re permanent, but because they’re not. Because you, of all people, know how fleeting these things can be. So savor them. Let them energize you.

When that excitement hijacks you at 5AM and pushes you to write, let it. When that hope seeps into your muscles, loosening them, relaxing those parts of your body you hadn’t even realized were tied up in knots, let it. When that pride perches on your lips and has you sharing the good news with people you used to hide this part of yourself from, let it.

Let yourself be in this moment. Absorb the magic of it and let that magic carry you forward.

But most importantly, don’t let the appearance of new milestones, of new sources of stress, cause you to forget why you did this. Your why is the only thing that matters. Because even if this dream did implode, your why would still be there, waiting for you to try again. Trying and failing, trying and failing, that’s not going to stop just because you have an agent. So you need to hold tight to why that struggle is still worth it.

Think about that little girl who didn’t know where she fit, who tried on so many different masks, who never felt happy in any of them. Think about all of the other kids who have been written out of children’s literature because they didn’t wear the right mask or speak the right language or pray to the right God. You’ve been writing about straddling worlds and identities since the very beginning. You have been searching for answers for so long.

Now it’s time to share what you’ve found.

So when things get hard, when things get awesome, remind yourself that none of it matters unless the kids reading your books believe they matter. They are the reason for all of this. So celebrate knowing that you have the power to give them space on those shelves. That every day you aren’t just telling stories but building bridges, making mirrors, opening doors and windows, and giving little girls like you permission to take off their masks, to matter, to dream. To shed the pain of being in-between and celebrate the beauty of it instead.

You are one step closer to all of this. Each step that comes next doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to be sure. Sure of where you’re going and why. You can doubt the words but not why you’re writing them. You can fear the journey but not the destination. So go. Stumble. Fall off the path. Claw and crawl and climb. But get there.

That little girl is waiting for you.

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