This is what it’s all about, you magical, imaginative, creative being. You can create worlds out of thin air. Characters, settings, desires, motivations, losses, victories, love, joy, disappointment, and healing. The full breadth and depth of human emotion lives in you. As a writer, you’re trying to get all of that out of your mind and heart, into your hands, and out into the world so you can connect with others, so we all feel less alone. What a noble, generous, and loving thing to do. Writing is service in its highest, most selfless form.
Joy today: On the passing of Toni Morrison
She gave me 2 priceless lessons: we all have time to write and never give up. As a single mom with 2 kids, Morrison wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 15-minute increments each day because that’s all the free time she had. It took her 5 years to write it.
She kept writing despite her novel’s low sales. 3 years later, her next novel, Sula, was nominated for the National Book Award. Her following novels received mixed reviews, but she remained determined.
In 1987, 17 years after publishing her 1st novel, she won the Pulitzer. If you have a dream project, work on it bit by bit. Don’t let critics sap the joy you get from your work. Toni Morrison lived her life with passion and unending grace. She taught me to keep writing.
You were the GOAT, Ms. Morrison. How lucky we are to forever inhabit your multitude of worlds through your gorgeous books. Rest in Power, because that is what you gave all of us—the power of our own language, our own stories. What a life. What a gift.
Joy today: Talking to 4th graders about writing
I had a blast chatting with a class of 4th graders via Skype yesterday about my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, about all things writing. It’s a gift to be an author and encourage young people to tell their stories. Also, teachers inspire me and are the very best humans. Amy Artl is so passionate about helping her students understand the writing and revising process. I’m glad that I could encourage them by explaining that all of the things they have to manage in their writing—finding inspiration, the struggle of editing, and dealing with conflict—are all things that every writer manages, especially me!
Yesterday was their last day of school, and Amy promised them they could finish the book before today was over. They cheered and my heart melted! Want me to chat with your school about writing via Skype or Google Hangout? I’d love to. Get in touch with me and let’s set it up!
Joy today: Taking over Young Entertainment Magazine’s Twitter account
I’m doing a #YAAuthorTakeover on Thursday for Young Entertainment Mag ‘s Twitter account @YoungEntMag. I’ll be talking about my book, writing / publishing, turning a book into a film, etc. What questions would you want me to answer?
A Year of Yes: Fan mail from a young reader filled my heart
Today my heart’s so full it’s going to burst. I just got this fan letter and art from 10-yr-old Evie, 1 of my young readers. She addressed it to Emerson Page, my book’s heroine. I’m cry-smiling so much my face hurts.
She said the book “was very well written, with good use of figurative language and action packed. Thank you for your memoir of adventure, friendship, and around every corner was a surprise.” I am overjoyed because Evie is exactly the reader I wrote this book for.
I met her dad thanks to the Ologies Podcast FB group. He said that he believes in providing books with strong female characters for Evie to read so how could we not be immediate pals?!
This is the stuff of my dreams as a writer. You better believe I’m saving this letter, framing this art, and replying to this enthusiastic young woman who is articulate, and by the way, has gorgeous hand-writing and mad art skills. 😊😭😍
A Year of Yes: Paid to tell my story
A bit of bright news on a dark morning in New York City. I went to my mailbox this morning to find a check for my first paid speaker fee as an author. I’ve done a lot of public speaking for the companies I’ve worked for and owned. I’ve had expenses covered and expensive conference fees waived. Today is the very first time I’ve received a speaking fee for just being me and for telling my own personal story. And that feels amazing.
A Year of Yes: Happy book birthday to Emerson Page
One year ago today, I became an author. Thank you so much for all of the love and support during this entire process. It took me 8 years to bring Emerson to life and share her with the world, and her story both saved and changed my life in ways I never even imagined were possible. Happy birthday to my bold, brave girl, Emerson Page. Thank you for letting in the light.
Next stop: Emerson and I will be at the Miami Book Fair from November 15th – 18th where we’ll collect the Readers’ Favorite Award for Young Adult Fiction – Adventure (Gold).
Grab a copy of Emerson’s story on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores everywhere.
A Year of Yes: Cross-polliNation podcast about everything I love about my career
Excited to share this podcast episode where I talk about everything I love in my career: product development, science, biomimicry, the arts, writing, my book, storytelling, technology, and the power of our imagination coupled with curiosity. Thank you to host N.B., and to Carolyn Kiel for recommending me! You can listen at this link (www.crosspollination.co) and wherever you get your podcast feeds!
A Year of Yes: Excited to welcome Julie Gaines of Fishs Eddy to NYC’s Secrets and Lies at Caveat on Oct 9th at 7pm
Thrilled that the talented, funny, and feisty Julie Gaines, founder of Fishs Eddy, will be our special guest at New York City’s Secrets & Lies storytelling show at Caveat on October 9th at 7pm. We’ll talk about design, activism, entrepreneurship, and her new book. She rarely speaks publicly so this will be a real treat for all of us. Grab your tickets at https://www.caveat.nyc/event/new-york-city’s-secrets-and-lies-10-9-2018
A Year of Yes: How Neil Gaiman changed the way I write in one minute
“I’m not an outliner or someone who free writes. I’m more of a gardener. I plant seeds and I see what grows. I plant pumpkins and I expect a pumpkin. But if I get a tomato, I’ll figure out what to do with that. That’s how I write. I love that magic moment when something happens on the page we’re writing that we didn’t know was going to happen. I get to be the first reader of my work, and it’s very exciting. And quite frankly that magic doesn’t happen often enough. A lot of writing is just laying brick.” ~Neil Gaiman, International Literary Festival in Dublin, May 2018
By an amazing stroke of luck, Neil Gaiman was speaking as the headliner at the International Literary Festival in Dublin while I was there doing research for my next novel this week. He’s one of my favorite writers, an inspiration for my own work, and to see him in person was thrilling.
Of all the beautiful advice he offered (and you can see my tweets from his talk here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1002678622765887488), this quote above is the one that affected me the most because it made me change the way I think about my own writing.
I’m a planner. If I were to self-analyze, I would say I like plans because I grew up with a lot of instability. I like order and organization of my tasks because I like to know what I’m doing and where I’m going, and I absolutely hate wasting time because I know what a precious and finite a resource time is. I can’t imagine a world in which I completely let that go. However, Neil Gaiman made me realize that maybe, perhaps, I can loosen the reins a bit. I certainly allow for new information and imagination in my writing. I’ve absolutely had moments where new characters and circumstances and obstacles show up that I never saw coming. That’s the fun, the magic, of writing.
But maybe I don’t need the next bit figured out before I sit down to write every single time. It’s at least worth trying, and giving something a try is where everything begins.