During a radio interview about the funeral I held for my dead dream of launching a best-selling writing career with my first novel, the host told me he found the book highly cinematic and wondered if Hollywood had called. “No,” I answered, “but if they want to…”and I offered up my phone number on the air.
Imagine my excitement when I arrived home to a blinking light on my voice mail.
Hollywood? No. It was another sort of producer, director type. James Anderson, a death row inmate at San Quentin, called (collect) to tell me he was inspired by my determination in plugging on with self-publishing and self-promotion even after receiving sixteen rejections from mainstream publishers. He said I had all the qualities and attributes he looked for in “clients.” Acknowledging that I might find that term laughable coming from a guy sitting on death row, he explained that he had a wide network of friends that he “represents” by promoting their art, projects, ideas, and causes. James then immediately followed up by sending me a package with a four page single-spaced cover letter telling me about the artwork, product ideas, research and relationships he’s created while serving (biding?) his time. Though it came as no surprise to me that James said he was innocent of the violent crime that had him locked up, that’s not why he contacted me. Mostly it was to interest me in his art, inventions, and ideas and to give me ideas to promote mine. He even offered to let me use one (or even more) of his paintings as cover art for my next book. And though not easily accessible on the web, the one link to his artwork shows work of great promise. Plus, his passion, purpose and swift follow-up skills demonstrated a level of zeal I’ve not encountered as standard customer service practices I’ve experienced as a “client” of others.
Innocent or not, James is now in my Hall of Fame for his willingness to bring life to his art and ideas, as well to offer folks like me the kind of pep-talks he gave me at the end of his letter, informing me that one of my “admirable qualities was that I was a “DOER and not a quitter.”
To this man who is locked up in prison fighting for his life I say, keep on painting, inventing, sharing your ideas, time and commitment with those who touch your imagination, and thanks so much for taking me on as a client.
If you want to write James Anderson, send snail mail to him at his office at P.O. Box C -11400:5EY39, San Quentin, CA, 94974.