I May Be Writing for Influencers and Thought Leaders, but I’m not Immune to False Starts

I’ve been invited to a month-long symposium for artists working on issues having to do with pollution at a writer’s residency in Thailand called Studio88. It’ll be me and about 20 other artists and writers who think of themselves as influencers and thought leaders on any topic related to pollution. My interest in the topic was spawned by a book I ghostwrote for a TED-talk presenting client recently on agricultural pollution among other things, and …

I’m looking forward to doing more thought-leadership writing on the US-Thai relationship around agri-chemicals. 

Thinking I was such a fancy-ass traveler, I decided to change my flight at the last minute to include a few extra days for fooling around in Thailand outside the program, but that was a big mistake. Turns out, the way visas work, you can add extra time onto your trip after a thirty-day stay but NOT BEFORE. You have to have a plane ticket home within 30 days of arriving or you need to apply for a visa, which I didn’t do. I was warned. I just forgot. This is nobody’s fault but my own. So, they literally sent me home at the check-in desk. I took the bus from Boston all the way home, rescheduled the flight, and did it all again a few days later, which is now. So, if I’m a travel influencer, my main function is to provide cautionary tales such as this. And if I’m a thought leader, it’s just the thought: remember to write a check-list! 

And if I’m qualified to help TED-talk-bound innovators, it’s because I can keep writing through all of it. 

I was in an absolute state last night worried I’d get turned away at check-in again, even though I knew there was no reason it would happen this time. Overseas travel is just rife with weird things that can happen. But the good news is that with those extra days I double-checked everything and found more errors I’d made. For instance, in the US I use credit cards, seldom cash. But in Thailand I’ll need US cash in large denominations to exchange and a wallet to carry actual money in. I hadn’t been prepared with that, either. But now I see that my original screw-up provided me with a trial run. My carry-on was also too heavy, I discovered. So, I fixed that, too. 

Which all leads me to the point of this missive. When I think back on so many screw-ups of my life, specifically things where I tried again until I achieved it, I realize failure is just a trial run, and it sets you up to win better the next time through. A lot of my ghostwriting clients have experienced this as well. You see, I get a lot of influencer and thought-leader clients the second time around, after they tried some other ghostwriter, got ripped off, learned some things, and then went looking for a real professional. The experience gives you an idea of what quality reads like, what professionalism looks like in this business, and the level of trust and connection that leads to a good ghostwriter-client relationship. 

So, at the risk of sounding like one of those after-school specials full of damp, eye-roll-prompting advice, I just want to put out some appreciation for colossal mistakes and those of us who recognize them for what they are: trial runs. 

Whether you’re a writer, artist, influencer, or thought leader, trial runs present great opportunities to get it right the first time… for a second time. 

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