The best gift I have ever received is actually directly linked to this blog. My editor Dave knew that when I was starting out, writing a blog post was hard. It’s still hard, but back then I didn’t know what I was doing at all and it was even harder. I was struggling. It was taking me more time to write a blog post than I had in between publishing schedules, and I was eating through my backlog. To say nothing of how much time Dave was spending revising. . .
So for Christmas that year, Dave surprised me with a deck of cards he called the “Broblique Strategies: over 79 probably-useful aphorisms for Katja.” (There were 80 different cards, in case you were wondering). The cards were a play off Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards, except, you know, funny. And personalized. And titled as such because we’re bros.
Each card has a writing prompt on it, specifically designed for me, for whenever I would get stuck in my writing. There were plenty of inside jokes, puns, and even an acknowledgement of my hatred for Hemingway. But besides all this humor, the cards were also useful. It was like having an editor in my pocket: a combination cheerleader and advice-giver, always there when I needed it.
These cards are one of my most treasured possessions. It’s not just all the thought that went into them. It’s that they’re the perfect example of a philosophy that Dave and I have sort of iterated over the years, which we refer to between ourselves as “audacious bullshit.”
I’m not sure I could put the tenets of our philosophy down into words. It’s a know-it-when-you-see-it sort of mentality somewhere between humor, devil-may-care attitude, and just doubling down on something hard enough that even if it doesn’t work out you kind of have to admire the dedication. It’s the kind of mindset that makes you ask: why not start a blog about the modeling industry and working as a creative professional? So what if you’re in over your head! It’s also the kind of thing that makes you think: my best friend is over her head trying to start a big, scary new blogging project? Why not craft her a customized editor with a sense of humor?
Blogging is not the only thing audacious bullshit has gotten me into. Most of my huge successes can be traced back to the “why not” of A. B. Why not take my clothes off for money and try to be a nude model? (You can see how well that worked for yourself). Why not start a band with someone I barely know? (That’s how I met Dave and forged one of the closest friendships of my life). Why not ask out the person I’ve been crushing on for years? (They said yes).
Of course, not all audacious bullshit works. Being audacious by definition means that you’re reaching outside your comfort zone. Failure is often imminent, and sometimes unavoidable. But the nice thing is that when problems are approached audaciously, even when you fail a few good things usually happen. First, you almost always get a great story out of it—like the time I almost died driving into a tornado, or the time I accidentally peed on my boyfriend’s mother’s cat.
And second, even if you fail, you know that you tried something big and worthwhile. That’s comforting in and of itself.
I also don’t mean to plant the impression that I’m cocky and sure of myself all the time. I’m naturally actually pretty shy and cautious by nature. Thinking of the audacious response to a situation doesn’t mean that I automatically feel invincible. My legs were shaking the first time I stepped onto a model stand. But thinking of what the audacious version of me would do gives me the forward momentum to actually try it. It gives me the courage to at least show up. And most of the time, showing up is all you have to do to succeed—or at least get a really good story.
So if you want to accomplish big things that you think are out of reach and have fun doing it, take a card out of my Broblique Strategies deck:
“It doesn’t matter in the long run; take a risk fearlessly."
And don’t forget the sense of humor.