I want this.
February 29th, 2016—depending on how pedantic you are—was either the 1st anniversary of Shoegnome becoming my full time job, the 4th anniversary of Shoegnome becoming my full time job, the 2,059th day since my first blog post, or the 424th day that Shoegnome, LLC was also Shoegnome Architects.
It was also the day voting started for the 7th Annual JDR Industry Blogger Awards, which Shoegnome was nominated for, in the Best Blogger Architecture category. If it’s before April 15th, 2016 pause for a moment and vote, it’s easy: click, scroll, click.I want to win that award. I know it is a difficult dream. There is at least one competitor that casts a shadow over all the other architecture bloggers talking about our lives as architects. He’s got kind of a big following. But I’m not going to say “let’s fight for second place.” Not today. Today I want to win. Today I want to fight for this stamp of approval. Why? Because it will feel good to win. Because I can’t run from things that aren’t guaranteed. So help me and vote. It’ll take less than five seconds. I want you to use a little bit of your day and say “thank you for what you do. I’ll click on the voting link and support Shoegnome.” Please.
What will I do in return, if you vote for me? Or even if you don’t vote for me? I’ll do my best to be reclusive: to not be as active on LinkedIN or the ARCHICAD-Talk forum. I’ll try to ignore Twitter and take longer to answer e-mails. I’ll let comments fester in the queue. I’ll write less than I’ve ever written before—fewer posts here on Shoegnome and less on BIM Engine. I’ll say no to writing articles for other websites and I’ll turn down speaking gigs. I’ll do all that whether you vote or not because it’s time for me to finish an article I started many, many years ago: How to Start an Architecture Firm.
It’s mostly written, but I haven’t been able to complete it. I keep waiting. I keep putting it off because I don’t feel like I am yet qualified to explain how to start an architecture firm. I know that’s bullshit. But then again, I also know there is some truth to it. I can give a million excuses for why I’ve structured my business the way I have over the years—young kids, all the moving, my love of writing, my enjoyment of teaming up with others, my passion for ARCHICAD, not wanting to disrupt an atypical, successful solution… The list is long. However that list is incomplete if it ignores the number one reason:
When I quit my job on February 29th, 2012, I told my old bosses that it was to focus on everything in the list above. I didn’t say “I’m quitting to build my own architecture firm. As of today, I’m your competition.” I was polite and demur. It was the truth and the proper thing to do at the time (we can dig deeper into that another time). No more. I still believe that other architects are collaborators and people worth supporting. I still want to work with the other architects I work with. I still believe that there’s enough work for all of us. But it’s time for me to declare, “hi my name is Jared and I’m from Shoegnome Architects.”
Coincidentally, this week I came across a blog that spoke to me: Rejectomancy. The site focuses on the rejections a writer faces. As someone who has spent more time writing than architecting over the past six years, I get that. Sometimes writers have good ideas, but shit execution of those thoughts. Other times the ideas are garbage and no amount of proper grammar or well executed sentences will matter. Navigating both those dangers and then opening yourself up to the criticism of the people who control whether your ideas are shared is not fun.
Architects face similar problems. Perhaps we have it even worse (again, we can dig deeper into that another time). Clients don’t want to work with us because of our personalities, fees, or design preferences. All of that hurts. Jurisdictions might dislike our interpretations of the regulations or just point out we’re idiots who missed something in the code. None of that is fun. Now include the critical opinions of other architects and designers. Putting forth one’s work and declaring “this is good. I believe in this.” ain’t easy. All of this makes me want to lie down on the floor and pretend not to exist. Not every day. But some days.
I’m running towards you
No more hiding. It’s time. I’m going to chase after every client I can. Really chase, not just pretend to. I will proclaim “I want this!” and then work hard to earn it. I don’t know how I’ll have the time to do all the work I get. I don’t know how I’ll handle the disappointment of not getting the clients I want. I don’t know how much the stress will turn my stomach in knots. But it’s time to make this happen. I’m not as practiced as I should be at the art of rejection or tackling what makes me uncomfortable. I’ve been focusing too much on what is easy and fearfully avoiding the things I might fail at. No more. It’s time to take bigger risks, to chase after work that terrifies me: projects that I’ll be crushed if I don’t get and scared if I do.
And because I like things in writing, here’s the promise: by February 29th, 2020 if Shoegnome Architects doesn’t have plenty of projects to its name, if Shoegnome Architects isn’t published in magazines, if the majority of my income isn’t coming from architecture rather than other things, then it better be because I tried and failed. Or tried, succeeded, and realized I really do love writing more than architecture. It’s time to risk failure. It’s time to use this platform I created to hold myself accountable.
Go vote for Shoegnome as the best architecture blog while I focus on becoming the best architect with a blog.