Last night, I read from Imaginary Girls for a room of artists here at the colony. I talked first about what I find so exciting about writing YA fiction, I showed some images of a place that inspired the mythical elements of the novel—the Ashokan Reservoir in the Catskills, where I used to sneak swims as a teenager, just like the characters in the novel do in the opening—and then I read from the first chapter. After, I took questions. I was thrilled by the response to my presentation.
But even beyond that, I was proud of myself. Why make such a big deal of this? Because I’m a shy person at heart, and it’s taken me many years to build up my confidence, especially around other writers and artists I admire. The presentation I did last night means so much to me because I couldn’t do it last time. The last time I was here in residence at the MacDowell Colony (six years ago, in 2005), I did not do a presentation or a reading. I was too scared. I was painfully shy and couldn’t even think of it. At the time, I told myself it’s voluntary and it’s okay to quietly slip through without sharing my work with others… But after I left, I realized that I regretted it. I should have gathered up my courage and done a reading. I’ve regretted it for years afterward.
Until last night.
I’ve changed a lot in the last six years—one big change is that when I was first at MacDowell in 2005 I was writing literary fiction for adults, and now I write literary fiction for young adults, which I guess isn’t such a huge change, but still. Mostly what’s changed in me is my sense of self. My confidence in who I am and what I write.
I think I’ve grown up.
I also found out some wonderful news yesterday that I want to share: My editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, was just promoted to vp/publisher of Dutton! Once my book comes out and my acknowledgments can be read I think people will see just how highly I think of Julie… She was instrumental in what Imaginary Girls has become, and I can’t say enough how much I love working with her. I’m thrilled for her amazing news and truly excited to be a part of the future of the Dutton imprint!
Yesterday was a good day. Now, off to make today good, too.