a cautionary tale

Andrea, photobooth in Santa Barbara

I share the photo above for a few of reasons:

1. It is silly and funny (I wish I owned that wig) and I fell in a big emotional pothole today and I am trying to fish my way out. This photo reminds me of the side of me that is light and doesn’t take things so seriously. Oh where are you light side?

2. Several of the photobooth pics from my photobooth gallery will be in a cool textbook about identity & culture that is coming out next year.

3. It represents a wonderful lesson about courage and trusting our voice in the world. Let me explain.

Around the time when I started the superhero web site I had an idea to create a photobooth book. It would be a collection of photobooth pics from around the world alongside interviews from the folks being photographed.

A friend and I began the process by standing at a photobooth in an amusement park in Santa Cruz. We paid for people to take their photos for us. Then we would have them answer a list of questions about themselves right there at the booth. So much fun…

I later announced the project on my site and submissions started to come in from all over the world.

Years went by.

And I never wrote the book proposal.

I was afraid. I didn’t know how. I made up excuses about how I wasn’t really a writer and what would I even say on a proposal? I decided to build the book instead. Maybe I could show a publisher what I had in mind.

I decided I needed to learn Quark (a book design program).

More time went by.

I was miserable at Quark and had a wonderful friend help me create the proposal and a look for the pages.

More time went by.

I discovered that a friend was a gift book editor at the exact publishing house I wanted to court. I met with her and showed her my project.

“Oh Andrea!” she said. “If only you would have given this to me sooner. There are 3 books about photobooth pictures coming out this year. We are actually distributing one of them.”

My heart sank.

Hello, cautionary tale.

If I had simply trusted my voice and my vision when I began the project, (literally 3 years before I presented my idea) it is possible that my book could have been published. I had invented so many reasons why I wasn’t ready to create a proposal. I needed to get more submissions. I needed to learn the right graphics program. I needed a better printer.

But really. I was just afraid.

And that’s okay! But this is the risk. The cost of staying in that place a little too long.

I have another book project in the works, and I am in full swing with the proposal now. I am still afraid. I don’t always believe I’m a writer. I don’t always believe I’m a photographer. My mind screams “Big phony!” all the time.

But alongside all of the evil voices, are amazing friends, a life coach supporting me in keeping my deadlines, and a community here on this site called YOU.

I am creating in the face of all of that chatter.

And dammit. This time I’m going to do it.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. Darcie

    Lovin’ that lip, Andrea. Reminds me of Billy Idol.
    You are definitely no phony. I, for one, would buy a book by you!

  2. Veronica

    I can’t wait to read your book Andrea. I think you are amazingly talented and creative and this is just the entry I needed to read today. Thank you.

  3. Penelope

    Yay Andrea! Do it!
    (I’m facing some fears right now too. dirty fears…making you feel worthless. I spit on them!)

  4. Laura

    Yes, do it! Maybe then I will get the courage to finally send my own book (a procrastinatory 3 years in the making and just…about…done…) out to a publisher.

  5. Beastmomma

    Thanks for sharing your tale and even more by showing by example how to learn from our past.

  6. Lu

    Big GO FOR IT, GIRL! I feel you, I feel you on this. You have to be willing to take a chance and push through that fear. I hope all goes well for you with your new project.

  7. carie

    I too can relate to your feelings of fear and self-doubt. Your post, has brought up some strong feelings for me and I feel that it is at the right time for me to actually do something about it.
    Thank you for your wise words.

  8. mati

    Yeah! I can relate so much to this story! We need to just do it without worrying about perfection, excuses, blah… Thank you:)

  9. jenny vorwaller

    wow* andrea! i don’t know how this helps you out, but it helps me out to hear that YOU hear that stubborn self-doubt too. cheers to fighting it off!

  10. joy madison

    Im just coming back to your photobooth page again. love all the varity.
    There is so much we convince ourselves we cannot do…..I wonder why we do that! Seize the day!

  11. Kate

    Darling, you are the real deal. Don’t listen to those voices that tell you that you aren’t…those may not even be your own voices. Just stick a marshmallow in each ear and pay no heed to those nasty voices. You are fantastic and creative and such a inspiration to me to “get on up” and “get going” with my writing, photography, and collages.

  12. danielle

    YOUR site, YOUR creativity, YOUR positive mantras gave me the courage to explore my creative life again. I have always dreamed of being some kind of artist. It is the Superhero Journal that has helped me start down a path I was afraid of for years. I can’t wait for your books!

  13. Alexandra

    If you knew how much my friends and I cherish your blog, you’d have no doubts about your writing ability! There is such a genuine love and warmth and vibrancy and life to your writing and photos that has been such a source of daily comfort and company to me these past few months when my father has been so ill, gathering up the courage to send my own proposal out to publishers, leaving California to move to a new state. I can’t wait to read your first book and to share it with everyone I love!

  14. Alexandra

    If you knew how much my friends and I cherish your blog, you’d have no doubts about your writing ability! There is such a genuine love and warmth and vibrancy and life to your writing and photos that has been such a source of daily comfort and company to me these past few months when my father has been so ill, gathering up the courage to send my own proposal out to publishers, leaving California to move to a new state. I can’t wait to read your first book and to share it with everyone I love!

  15. Donavan

    I said a prayer this morning for guidance.
    Thank you, Angel Andrea, for answering it.

  16. Julie

    You are a writer. You are a photographer. You are wonderful.
    I’ve said it before and I’m happy to repeat it one hundred million times … thank you for being you and so generously sharing yourself with the world … through this website and beyond.
    (Your cautionary tale is appreciated as well and, for me at least, quite timely.)

  17. Jill

    ” Long afterwards she was to remember that moment when her life changed it’s direction. It was not predestined; she had a choice. or it seemed that she had. to accept or refuse. To take one turning down the crossroads to the future or another”
    – Evelyn Anthony
    Bravo Andrea, and THANK YOU! More than you know 🙂

  18. dee

    Brava for your resolve towards your goal publishing your new book! Perhaps you should re-think as well the goal to have the photobooth book published. Just because one publishing house rejects it (because they have 3 coming out this year) doesn’t mean that the next firm or the next firm or the 1200th firm would reject it. If it’s something you believe in perhaps yours has a unique spin on it and would be THE recognized book. Don’t give up on any of your dreams! Wishing you the best.

  19. Kelley

    Great lesson!
    How sad that your photobooth book won’t be published…I looked through the photos, they are so good!!
    I’m sure the new proposal you have in the works is going to be amazing, and YAY you for forging ahead even in the face of fear. You are a captivating writer…don’t doubt that. Your blog is INTERESTING…

  20. andrea

    I know that it never got made into a book but I must tell you how much I LOVE your photobooth project. I have it bookmarked and visit from time to time for fun and inspiration. I link it whenever I post about photobooth pics (I’m a photobooth fanatic/lover/collector) and often recommend it to others. book or not, it is what it is and it is an amazing thing, to be shared with others for years to come. so, thank you for that.
    there have been so many times in my life where I have been so cautious (more like scared to death) to go for things I desired. I have often wondered what my life would be like today had refused to be so timid. thank you for sharing your experience as well. it’s always good to be reminded that’s there’s always room for more risk, more experience, more magic…
    oh, and I absolutely love this pic of you. fabulous and fun, indeed.

  21. Theo

    Thank you for sharing this cautionary tale, it inspires me to continue. I sat on a collection of designs I created, thinking I would work them into a book. I was afraid and doubted myself. I sat on this project for five years. When I started to work on it again, I found “my designs” all over the net, their time had come. You’ve inspired and encouraged me to keep moving and to not give up even if those voices of doubt are screaming in my head. Thanks also for your daily inspiration, you’ve helped me through some difficult times. You clearly are a very creative and talented writer. Look forward to seeing your book!

  22. jenn

    this morning i came into my office, turned the page on my favorite sark wall calendar and started looking at what i had listed on my month. today said “andrea” and nothing else. a few months ago you asked us to send you love the first day of the month. i decided to write it into my calendar so that the first day of every month i thought about you. even if only for a moment, i am totally present and i think of only you and the good thigns i want to happen to you.
    i think it’s funny that today of all days you write this post about fears and things that stop us. i think it’s so important to talk about this stuff. a lot of these blogs i love to visit i find are little pieces of what the writer wants us to see. i belive it’s the hard parts, that soft center we should all be sharing. it helps us remember we are not so different, not so far away from each other. and you never know, just when you reach out to us, you just might be on the minds of many of us already. thank you for sharing. i think it is so important. i send you stregnth today. stregnth to leap when you think you can’t. you can do it girl!

  23. t

    did you read my mind this morning as you wrote this? cautionary tale. love that.
    i have so many ideas in my head and so many prospects and so many opportunites…if i would just SEIZE THEM.

  24. Stephanie

    Oh Andrea,
    You know how I so so so get this whole thing. I have come to this realization only in the past three years or so. It seems so much easier to find reasons NOT to do things. I kidded myself about this for years also, when what it really was was fear or, shall we say – inadequate self-esteem. Such a waste of time! Life is NOW . As the old cliche goes: “Life is not a dress rehearsal”!!
    Best of luck on your new book proposal. GO FOR IT. But also, don’t let anyone tell you all the reasons NOT to get your photobooth book pulished – if you rally want to. There may be dozens of them out there, but NONE exactly like yours!

  25. Carolyn Pappas

    You really are an amazing writer–your posts on this blog are always concise, imaginative and inspiring. The only person that needs convincing is yourself. I know that when you bite the bullet and get your book published, you will have so much more confidence in your writing abilities. Good luck!

  26. katherine

    hon, you are your own superhero 🙂 and some of your manymanymany superpowers are definitely of the creative variety . . . why do you think you have so many fans out here? . . . well, you *are* cute too 🙂 (PS – I had *another* person stop me in public and compliment me on my superhero earrings 🙂

  27. t

    oh-meant to tell you in my first comment. check out alexi murdoch, artist. four songs, album. it’s only fear, song.

  28. Jason

    I am going to go collect my thoughts, and then my notes, and then my dreams. Once all of the clutter is in place I am going to finally begin writing the novel that I have been putting off for a decade.
    If I can write a paragraph that has as much eloquence, insight and beauty in it that even remotely compares to one simple *letter* from your pen than I will be a success.
    I have been on vacation in baja for a week thinking about this, amongst other things. The first thing I did after dropping my bag and giving the dog some love was check on your community. Serendipitous to say the least.
    Pura vida, amiga.

  29. amanda

    Ugh. You did it again. But I didn’t expect you to this time. You made me get all teary-eyed.
    Why am I reacting so strongly to this entry? I guess I relate too much. I have a book idea, too. Well, several of them. I need to get moving.
    But first, I’m sending you vibes filled with clarity of mind, self-confidence, and enough innocence to just do what you need to do without thinking too much about it first. Thanks for inspiration.

  30. Julia

    Dearest Andrea, Thank you for your openess and wisdom. I’m soooo…inspired by your cautionary tale. Too many times I have let the fear of “what if?” get in the way of me following my passion. Thank you for remainding me that it is scary, but also so very necessary to just throw caution to the wind and full steam ahead when following your dreams. You are an amazing writer and an even better photographer. If I had even half your gift for words and color I would be unstoppable. You go girl!! And I so look forward to seeing your next book idea come to frution. I smell a bestseller from you for sure!! YOU ROCK! 🙂

  31. Anja

    You can do it, you know. And when you’re writing that proposal, don’t forget to say that you’ve got a website and lots of fans who would totally buy your book. I mean, it must be good for sales! Because of course we would. We’re all crazy about you 🙂
    ps: And remember that the publishers aren’t gods. I used to work as a publisher, so I know. You go get them!

  32. William

    You’ve written all these words, and you don’t always believe you’re a writer? You’ve taken all these photographs and you don’t always believe you’re a photographer? Wow! I guess self-doubt just stays with us all the way.

  33. Lena

    whispering soft wishes to the wind that your creation comes to life! you are amazing …

  34. *AGK*

    Sure is crowded in this comment booth 😉 A nice, gentle reminder to seize the day. NOW. Not tomorrow.

  35. kalki

    Andrea, you’re featured on Self-Portrait Day today! Great shot.

  36. heather

    carpe diem! And yes you are a photographer – trust yourself and your talent! Great lesson for all of us, thanks for sharing (keep coming back 🙂 )

  37. jenn

    hey you… yeah for being on self portrait day!
    you go!

  38. jan

    wow! you got me too. (all teary eyed) hmmmm…..i am so relating to this. in all aspects.
    sending you lots of good vibes; however i don’t think you’ll need it – sounds like you are well are your way. congrats!

  39. Lora

    I can so relate, sometimes that feels like the story of my life. Good luck with your new book proposal. I can’t wait to hear about it.

  40. denise

    not a photographer .. not a writer?
    PUHHHLLEEASE .. you are one of my
    and i’m CERTAIN i have GOOD TASTE IN ART!!!
    🙂 I LIKE MINE!!!
    DO IT.. when i first bumped into your site
    a long time ago with the photobooth pics

  41. bluepoppy

    You are my superhero. Now and forever.
    Your site (with your writing and photographs) breathes beauty and light into my every day.

  42. Monica

    Thanks so much for this post. It’s given me the little push that I need to stop being so afraid and just dive in.

  43. Meg

    AND YOU WILL DO IT AND BE GREAT!! I’m glad you’re working on another book propsal, because I was disapointed thinking you were “only” going to do your photobooth book. I love your photobooth pictures and interviews, and they bring out other peoples voices in a awsome way – but I was hoping for more Andrea writing, and more Andrea pictures. And now maybe, just maybe we’ll all get that in book form!! So don’t get distressed, it’s just somehow the universe pushing you in a diffrent direction then the one you imagined (which, well, I always find depressing 😉 don’t get me wrong).
    And you’re stuff is awsome… you don’t know me a’tall, and I read your site every few days. I call it “the blog, you know, my blog, the one I always read and talk about” to my friends. And I know one or two things about art.
    Take heart (though since I’m post 44, I’m sure you’re already smiling)

  44. Sarah

    Two things: We all have this fear. Courage is the ability to go on in the face of fear. Thank you for reminding us all of this and I hope your next book is a smash.
    Second, http://www.booklocker.com –the best print on demand publisher–you have a fan base, you should publish the book yourself. you haven’t a thing to lose! (I have no ties of any kind to booklocker and an independant auditor came up with their site as best).
    Good luck with everything!

  45. amy

    I like you!
    and think you are the coolest…
    You just keep on listening to that beautiful voice singing away inside of you !
    ~Everything we desire to be, that in some way we already are ~

  46. Heidi

    Andrea, you rock! I only wish I lived on the West Coast and I could meet you! If you are ever in Massachusetts you have a place to stay!I will be waiting for your book!
    Thanks for another great post that I need at the end of a long day! =)

  47. jack

    i’ve learned that there’s nothing to be afraid of but your own self-doubt. sometimes i forget too, a. i guess we all learn from our mistakes, huh? keep on pushing yourself… you’re wonderfully talented. i feel the same way about my supportive friends.. if it weren’t for them, i’d be at a stand-still. go for it – all the way!

  48. kristen

    what a POWERFUL story!
    hey i “am” a writer and i can’t get my proposal accepted if that helps.
    slowly but surely, i have gotten bites from some agents, but it takes time,
    so go with the new proposal and don’t listen to the “not good enough” talk. most books are from regular people with big ideas.
    that’s who WE are!:P

  49. Tracy

    Thank you. I needed to read these words today.
    So many things I am afraid of JUST DOING. Don’t know why. Can’t put it into words…but it’s there. Need to get through it because, really, what terrible thing am I imagining will happen to me?
    Two links I want to give you – one for help and one for fun. Are you familiar with Barbara Sher? Her website: http://www.barbarasher.com/. Anyway, she wrote a book called “I could be anything if I only knew what it was.” It’s really about your resistance, why it is there and how to work through it. It’s helping me.
    Second, your photo booth story reminded me of the Story Corps Project that is on NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4516989). I especially loved this one: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1675413
    Love reading your blog.

  50. Chiqui

    YOU GO GIRL!!!
    You are one of my “courage” heros.

  51. O.

    I bet one day you’ll be super famous, and all of us reading your journal now will think :”oh, i knew her way back when she was just writing her little blog over at superhero journal…”

  52. Daniel

    Good luck!

  53. Giselle Taminez

    Andrea all the Power to YOU!!! I am sure it will be a wonderful voice. I, too learned recently the importance of listening to our inner voice. We prefer to listen to others and trust other above ourselves, or let our fears dictate our actions. Untlis we rise to the challenges and face our fears we wont become whole and discover our true selves.

  54. emdot

    Andrea — You are a writer! You are a writer! I come to your site all the time to read what you have put up. And I love your style — so easy to relate to, so inviting, so inclusive. You have what it takes to reach your book dreams and you have all of us here to root you on — with sincerity and vigor!

  55. molzo

    Every time someone gives me money to shoot their wedding, the fear begins. And then, the day of, I’m convinced none of my equipment will work, and worse, I’ll fuck up every picture. And then, the butterflies are HUGE as I’m waiting to pick up the photos. And seriously, every time, the pictures look good, it’s a big surprise. So, word. Seriously, word.

  56. Andrea

    Hi, Andrea ~
    Quite certainly all of the greatest minds throughout time had doubt slung at them by none other than their own evil twin – their mind!
    You are an incredible writer who evokes such a passion and depth in others that you must find a way to ignore the evil twin! That said, the more important questions, rather than engaging the doubt, are, “Do I love this/these projects, or am I doing them out of some duty or obligation to a gift that others say I have?” and “Do I want to do this, or do I just think I should?” If you love doing it, and you determine that you want to do it – not “should” do it – then just say, “What the f**k! I’m doing it even if it sucks, because I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!” And if you’re doing it out of some obligation to something or someone – time for some thought process!
    I speak from experience…I studied opera in undergrad, and went on to do a year of grad school at the Manhattan School of Music, where I began to dislike the whole New York music scene. I studied voice for a few more years in NYC, then moved to southern California, and still studied a little more here, all the while not “feeling” it, yet feeling this obligation to my “talent”.
    At the time, I was always amazed when I went to an opera at the Met, because often times the voices were mediocre “natural” talents who had sustained themselves with good technique or whatever. I couldn’t understand it then, but I eventually got it – they were the ones who persevered because they loved it, even if they didn’t have these amazing natural voices – it was their passion!
    At the risk of sounding arrogant, I had a natural talent that could have been developed into a pretty impressive operatic career, which made it especially hard to decide not to pursue it. How could I deny this God-given talent??? Well, after numerous years of agony, I finally came to my own truth, which was that I don’t think God gives a rip about anything I am doing, except that maybe God hopes that I, as well as others, will enjoy this life!
    So here I am, years later, building a jewelry business, while still working as an editor to make $$$, and being a mom, and probably not doing particularly well at any of them, just by virtue of trying to fit all of them in, but the mom & the jewelry have got to stay, because I love them, and I’m sure I don’t need to explain about the $$$. Eventually, I’ll be able to phase out the editing work. I guess that’s the other truth I’ve begun to get a tiny bit comfortable with – everything in it’s own time.
    So, that was a long-winded way of saying, if it feels good, do it & enjoy it – to hell with the rest! If it’s not time yet, oh well. You’re an incredibly creative lady with ideas galore, I’m sure. Plenty more where that came from! : )

  57. jessica

    I remember a quote somewhere that resonated along these lines … we’re all struggling with mediocrity. But some are better at it than others. 🙂

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