Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Hug from One of My Heroes

I met one of my heroes yesterday! Jennifer Weiner was here in Cambridge on her "Cupcakes Across America" tour, talking about The Bachelorette, her young daughter's refusal to wear undergarments, and her new book, Fly Away Home. She was hilarious, entertaining...and surprised the $@% out of me when she knew who I was.

One of the perks of writing books is that the author community is SO supportive of each other. After my brief career as an attorney (where, let's just say, that was not the case...) it never ceases to amaze me how writers cheer each other on, promote one another's books, and send waves of Tweets/FB posts/emails saying "Get to work! I want to read your next book, so write it!" when one of us is having an "I should have been an accountant..." kind of day. I know Jen has been uber-supportive of fellow novelists, running contests through her blog to get the word out about debut novels, fighting to get better review coverage for women writers in the New York Times. But our paths have never crossed--I simply admired her from afar.

Back when my writing career was just a dream and I was temping in a venture capital firm that was about to be swallowed in a takeover, I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent that time reading Jen's blog. She was one of the earliest writers to really embrace blogging (the archives go back to 2002, when she was finishing her second book, In Her Shoes) and she was this brilliant combination of hilarious, encouraging, and real that I hadn't seen before--it became like my own soap opera, tuning in each day to see what would happen next.

In the years since, I've kept up with her books, and her blog, and admired something else: how adaptable she is. She takes chances in her writing, trying things: murder mystery, short stories, revisiting characters from a previous book to catch up. It takes guts to do that (and--let's be honest--HUGE book sales so that your publisher will let you take those kinds of risks) because it means she's not just churning out the same book over and over again for the same audience. Not everyone loves everything she writes...but she has something in that will entertain almost any reader. Smart strategy.

So last night...I handed her my book after the girl in front of me had explained the complicated spelling of her name. "Mine is easy," I said. "It's Trish."
She looked at me. "Are you Trish Ryan?" she asked.
"Um, yes..." I muttered, like a complete flabbergasted dork.
"It's so nice to meet you!!!" She got up from her table, ignoring the crush of people waiting for her signature, and gave me a giant hug. She asked how my second book was doing, and when I'd be going on tour.
Again, being the brilliant on-the-spot conversationalist that I am, said something about how we'd pushed the tour to September because only Jennifer Weiner can tour in July (which is true, but still...who says that?) She was funny and gracious and said that July is hotter than $#@$ and September would be better anyway.
Then, as I was walking away, she said to the crowd, "You guys: She's an author, too!" She didn't have to do that...it was just an act of huge generosity, sharing her spotlight with someone who occupies an much (much) lower spot on the literary ladder. A reporter from the Boston Globe came over to take my name. It was all surreal, and (I'll admit) wonderful. It gave me a nudge to keep writing, because I want to be part of this amazingly supportive world.

So thanks, Jen...for the untold hours of entertainment and encouragement, and also for knowing how much a moment like that can mean to another writer. Your generosity rocks :)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Behind the Scenes w/ (Emergency Backup) Steve

A new "behind the scenes" video, starring a 2-D approximation of my (video-averse) (spectacularly wonderful/hot/handsome) husband, and his thoughts on having a wife who writes candidly about, well...everything. Ladies & gentlemen, meet Steve!

video

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Be Like Penny!

I'm low on lofty thoughts of deep import these days, just enjoying the mellow decisions of summer...such as whether to wear shorts or a flowy skirt, or how many trips to the beach I can sneak in around life's obligations.

But this post by my friend Amy Julia stopped me in my tracks...and made me smile. It's a snapshot of how her 4 year old daughter Penny is responding to her first tennis lessons. Penny has Down Syndrome, so athletic adventures are a bit of a risk for her. But I love, love, love her perspective. She's not focused on how her peers (all taller & more agile, not to mention more experienced) are doing. She delights in her own accomplishments. "I hit the ball!" she told her Mom. "I was a good listener!" Her overall summary of the lesson? "I did a great job!"

That child is brilliant. She gets it. She showed up, tried something beyond her ability, and did a few things better than ever before. That's what it means to meet the goal. She did a great job!

I can't remember the last thing I attempted and then debriefed from this perspective. Today, that's going to change. A few years back Gatorade ran a commercial with Michael Jordan and the tag line, "Be like Mike." My mission for this summer... Be Like Penny :)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Big Swim

I went swimming yesterday! In the ocean! In big waves! I'm feeling rather proud of myself :)

I was visiting my hometown, about two hours north of Cambridge. As you may know, the water along the Maine Coast is majestic and inspiring...and insanely cold. For most of the summer, it's impossible to swim for more than a minute or two unless you're under the age of 10, over the age of 60...or wearing a wetsuit. (A childhood of swimming in that ocean is how I know you can get ice cream headache with no dairy products in sight.) But There are 3-4 magical days each year where the water is so warm you can stay in all day. Yesterday was the day after one of those magical days.

So yes, the water was cold, and the air was breezy, and each time I went in I came out looking like a freshly plucked chicken with frozen blue lips (It was a sexy sight, let me tell you.) But I decided I didn't care. The waves were perfect, and I can't remember the last time I swam in the ocean with full commitment (arms in the water, feet off the ground). So I pushed away the niggling thoughts about how silly I looked in my gigantic floral bathing suit, how cold the water was, and how I'd have no way to drive home if a wave pulled me under and I lost a contact lens, and I went for it. And it was SO MUCH FUN.

This summer's motto: Do it anyway. You'll be glad you did.

My sister has photographic evidence of my little head bobbing in the waves...I'll post here as soon as she sends it to me.

Here's to a summer of looking ridiculous :)