Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Greatest Inspiration and How I Misplaced my Cool

Last night something happened. And for me, it was something huge. But before I delve into this, I must backtrack to 2002 when I first read Jennifer Weiner's debut novel, Good in Bed. I had been scribbling stories since I was ten years old, but my dream of writing a novel had not yet come to fruition. And then I discovered the writer who would become my greatest inspiration, whose books would eventually take up an entire shelf in my house, and whose unique, sometimes dark and gritty, and always real voice would keep me up late at night to get to the end of her stories--only to feel sad when I had. The author, of course, is Jennifer Weiner.

Her books called to me, made me think, and really, really made me want to sit at my computer and finally do what I'd wanted to for so long. And in 2003, I did it. I wrote my first novel and in the next few years, I wrote two more.

In 2012, I published Finding Lucas, which wasn't in fact that first novel I wrote (that one is now in a box in my basement next to my Master's degree). When it came out, I, of course, was grateful to my family and friends who had been so supportive of my writing, but I also owed a lot to Jennifer Weiner. I am compelled to write, and it is a part of me. But without her books, I don't know if I would have taken the risks I have to get my work out there.

When I found out that she was coming to Toronto and would be signing copies of All Fall Down, well, I knew there was no way I was missing it. And I would have stood in the pouring rain without an umbrella to meet her. Luckily, I remembered my umbrella and thanks to Lydia Laceby and Kaley Stewart, I got a front row seat.

She came in, beautiful, hilarious, irreverent, and warm. She is exactly as I imagined, and I both laughed and cried as she talked about explaining periods to her daughter, why she wrote about addiction, her love of The Bachelor, and how amazing she felt helping Sarah Pekkanen, another author I love, when her first novel came out. Usually when you meet someone you revere, there is a slight disappointment. Jennifer Weiner exceeded my expectations.

Then it was time for her to sign my copy. I had inhaled All Fall Down the day it came out, and I loved it--raw, honest, smart, and thought-provoking, it is one of my favorites of hers. Shaking with a huge grin plastered on my face (I may have looked rabid), I told her what a huge inspiration she has been. When she asked if I'm a writer and then asked me if I was "Perfect Pen" (my twitter handle and editing business name), I almost fell over. I stuttered, I repeated myself, I stared, and I was so happy that I nearly floated out of the bookstore.

So, thank you, Jennifer Weiner, for being the incredibly talented writer you are, for writing stories that always speak to me, for being brave, funny, and kind, and for making this little author a very, very happy girl.

21 comments:

  1. I love this post! So happy for you! I've never met her and it's great to hear that she's as awesome in person as I've imagined her to be. :)

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    1. Thanks! She's even more awesome than I imagined.

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  2. What I love about her is that she may be a very famous author, but she knows who her readers are. I am still reeling from when she called me by name in front of everyone at her DC signing and then referred to my twitter handle later. So cool that she knows who you are too. Great post!

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    1. I was thinking about that last night! Thanks, Melissa.

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  3. Wow, Sam - that is a moment you will never forget! My prediction - someday, there will be a writer (many of them), flying high when the famous Samantha Stroh Bailey knows who SHE is. Mark my words, my brilliant, beautiful, talented friend.

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    1. Oh, Meri, you just made me cry. And right back at you!

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  4. Woohoo, Sam! That is amazing! I agree with Meredith - the time for you to be on the other side of the equation is not long! :)

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    1. Thank you, Glynis! You are such wonderful support and a great friend.

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  5. So cool that she knew you were Perfect Pen! You'll be bestseller-buds before long!

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  6. What a fabulous post! I love Jennifer Weiner, and I love how she stands up for chick lit. Truly an inspiration. :-) And I agree with everyone that you'll be in her bestselling club sometime soon!

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  7. I love Jennifer's writing, too. She's funny and that's what I love about your book, Sam. Your warmth and wit comes through on every page. Also, in your posts and tweets, so it's no surprise Jennifer knew who you were.

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    1. Oh, wow, thank you, Eileen. It's funny--when I met her, I was thinking about how nervous I was to meet you, another longtime writing idol of mine. And now you are a treasured friend. Life is crazy and wonderful.

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    2. A lucky day for us both, then. I feel blessed to have met you. You are a true friend and definitely someone I would want in my lifeboat. Though hopefully we won't be paddling in a flooded basement at your house!

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  8. I can't imagine much that's more lovely than being a great writer and *still* being a wonderful person, as she sounds. So glad your evening was one to treasure.

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    1. Definitely an evening I won't forget, Pauline. Exactly! She is truly so lovely.

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  9. That is so exciting! One of my dreams is to meet Meg Cabot (since Jane Austen died at 41 to Addison's Disease), and discuss our cats. ;-)

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  10. Lovely post, Sam, and I'm so happy you got to meet her. Let's make sure we get her to show up at one of your signings for your bestseller! xo

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  11. I love this and Jennifer Weiner. I'm sorry I have commented three times and something keeps happening....

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    1. I'm at my sisters and her internet is soooo slow. But everything I've read about JW has said she's kind and generous to her fans and fellow writers. I hope I get to meet her one day!

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