Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writers and Writing

I just read John Green’s Printz Award speech from a few years ago.

He got it for Looking for Alaska.

Alaska is the reason for the flowerpot tattoo on my leg.

John Green has impacted my life and my writing and the way I think about the world so much.

I am grateful that he exists and chooses to share his thoughts with the rest of us.

He is a main reason I want to write books.

I try not to talk about wanting to write books too much.

In part because I don’t think I can because oh-my-gosh-what-if-i-don’t-have-anything-to-say.

And in part because I don’t want to be a person who always says things but never does them.

And of course because I’m afraid of committing to the life of a writer, of the road it will take me down.

But John, his writing makes me believe in myself, and it makes me want to do the hard work, long hours, and stress it takes to be a writer.

I found TWLOHA three years ago.

It was a beautiful story of hope and redemption that met me in a time when I desperately needed both.

Over these past three years, I have read countless blogs.

Sometimes when I saw a new blog was posted, I would tell myself if I did everything on my to-do list, then I could read it.

Sometimes, the blogs picked me up off the floor.

Other times, the words sat with me as I rocked back and forth, trying to soothe my pain.

Always, they made me feel less alone.

I remember writing in my journal once that I wanted to touch people’s lives like that with words.

Last week, I wrote a blog for TWLOHA (posted below).

It was only supposed to be for the road blog, but Jamie (the founder) read it and said it should be posted everywhere we post blogs (and that’s like 4 different places).

First of all, I was floored.

I mean, I worked hard on it, but mostly it was something that just flowed out after reflecting on the day with the team.

Suddenly, I had done something I wanted to do but never knew would be possible.

There are more than 100 comments on that blog full of praises about the words I wrote.

This is obviously encouraging.

It made me think maybe I can do this writing thing.

I’ve done so much over the past few years I never believed I could do before I decided to go after it with all I have.

For example, I am an English major (also, I realize some people may think that I am no longer an English major since I graduated, but that just isn’t true—I will be an English major for life).

I sucked in English all through school.

Like, I got my first D in Phonics in second grade.

And I hated being bad at English because I loved reading so much.

I made it into all the honors and AP classes in high school because I knew how to work the system, not because I was really smart in the subject.

I remember sitting in senior English reading Shakespeare and wishing so hard that I could understand his crazy 400 year old drama speak.

I also remember my first assignment for Shakespeare in college and how after Act I, I actually knew what the story was about.

I ended up chasing English as my focus for my college career because of Ms. Britt.

She believed in me.

She said, “a writer is someone who writes.”

That statement gave me so much hope.

I respect her, and whenever she gives me a compliment, I know it is the truth.

Ms. Britt doesn’t tell a lie when it comes to giving an opinion about writing.

She made me believe I could have a different story, and I am grateful for her all the time.

So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is I’m hopeful.

I know that Jesus believes in me more than myself most of the time.

He will take me places bigger than my dreams if I ask.

Now for a few updates:

  1. It cooled off for a few days!!!!!! I actually wore long sleeves and shivered. It was glorious. :) Sadly, it will be in the 80s again this week, but the staff says it will get colder soon.
  2. I really enjoy The Proposal (the movie with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds). We watched it last night on the projector (because we don’t have a tv), and it was just as awesome as when I saw it in the theater.
  3. I finished Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It was good. I think the challenge he places on himself and presents to the reader will stay with me for years to come. He dares us to live a better story, to realize each person is “a tree in a story about a forest.” And he has really great stories, short real-life vignettes to unpack all of his points.
  4. I really miss my apartment bed. It was a full size bed that I could sleep on one side with clothes and books and pillows on the other side. I also miss my nightstand. Not that it was fantastic, it just existed. I sleep on a top bunk here with no nightstand. It is quite unfortunate.
  5. Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite movies of all time. Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze executed the story beautifully on screen. The emotion is real and deep and is not explained away with too many words. I cried. A few times. I can’t wait to make it a part of my collection. Please read Libba Bray’s post for more of about the movie. I agree with her.

I hope this post finds you well and smiling. May your week be filled with good reading and lots of laughs.

so much love.



  1. Hey Whitney, this is Rachel from Meredith (as in the Colton staff person from last year). Just thought I'd drop in and read what you've written and say hi (hi!). I hope you're doing well! I've got a blog of my own here ( that I'm doing with a friend of mine if you'd like to check it out. Have a good night. :)

  2. Whitney, thanks so much for the post. I read your blog that you wrote for TWLOHA last week. Your words were motivating and beautiful. I could see your passion for what you are doing in the writing.

    Keep searching out for those people that believe in you. Specially the people that you know when they say something about you, you know that it is indeed the truth. We need those people in our lives. I know I do. Believing in yourself is hard. Having large aspirations is scary. We're at a point in our lives where that is what is sitting in front of us -- do we dare to go for our dreams or to shy away due to fear of failure.

    Thanks for the reminder that Jesus believes in us more than we will ever be able to believe in ourselves. I needed that reminder this week. Oh what a week it has been -- and that the next will be!

    I'm excited to see that you will be here for Corn! Know that I'm thinking about you and that I believe in you. Love.