confessions / memories / novels / publishing / writing

Yesterday Was a Pretty Great Day

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.

12 thoughts on “Yesterday Was a Pretty Great Day

    • Me too, Camille. That meant so much to me, you have no idea. Oh, maybe now, hearing how shy I used to be, maybe now you know.🙂

  1. Congrats, Nova! I share your shy fear of public speaking and understand how momentous this must have been for you. *high fives* Hope I get to be in the audience to HEAR you someday.🙂

  2. that’s awesome nova! what an inspiration to know people can overcome their fears. (and of course, your success is so inspirational, too)

  3. That’s awesome. It’s like in Scott Pilgrim (the book or the movie). You leveled-up.

    I love this feeling, by the way. Doing something I never thought I’d be able to do.

    I bought this old arcade machine this year. The kind you stick the quarters in. The sound on the thing didn’t work and so I had to do some soldering on it. Never done that sort of thing in my life. Never thought I would (I’m not the handy type). When I did actually figure it out it was such a rush. Much like the feeling you got I bet.

  4. Good for you! I also recently gave an informal presentation that went really well. As a fellow shy writer who’d prefer to hang back and observe, it really is an accomplishment to feel at ease giving a presentation. Especially when it’s about yourself or your writing.

  5. I’m so glad you gave that presentation, Nova, that you got such excellent responses to it, and that you ended up feeling good about it afterwards. Also, when I saw the call for applications for the PEN Naylor Working Writer award, I thought of you–the time is short, but I hope you apply, and then win!

  6. Congratulations! I’m happy you found your confidence. I absolutely hate public speaking and I can not even imagine standing up and reading something I had written! Maybe in six years times🙂

    Hope today was good too.

  7. this post makes me so happy! It’s so lovely to have the privilege to follow you over the last few years and witness just how far you’ve come – this is just a really, really great post. Can’t wait to read Imaginary Girls!

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