I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that I love words. And things with words on them. Like this old flash card which is now pinned to my bulletin board:
It reminds me — the old stick-in-the-mud that I am — to try to forget for 5 minutes that I am the completely boring old broad that I am, and push the edges of the envelope in some way. Since I am a total coward, that envelope pushing is not likely to come by rock climbing or bungee jumping or even tweeting.
The only place I can be brave is on the page. And even then it is tough going. I still can’t believe I had the audacity to recreate life on the eastern Montana prairie in 1918 (yes, Timmy, that WAS before I was born) or more recently, explore life in a Japanese American incarceration camp during WWII. And now, I am slipping on the worn brown oxfords of girls who slogged through the Depression, trying to bring to light the day-to-day of that trying time.
I tremble a bit at the chutzpah needed to shape stories from lifetimes I’ve never experienced personally. But I draw courage from writers like Karen Cushman and Karen Hesse and Katherine Paterson and Rodman Philbrick and Gary Schmidt and Sarah Miller and Laurie Halse Anderson, all of whom have hoed up stories from the fields of our collective pasts and dared to tell them for contemporary readers.
Tell me about the dares you’ve taken in your writing. If you’re like me, some have worked out and some have been totally flops.
But I hope you celebrate both the successes and the flops because the important thing is that you dared.