That’s not entirely true. I was a high school cheerleader for one mortifying afternoon practice. The new girl at school, I was [what’s the sports word for “cast”] on the JV team. That was generous of them, really, since I was horrible at it. I probably wasn’t that cheerful either, since I was bummed out that I couldn’t be with my awesome new friends who were on Varsity. They are still amazing, so don’t picture fake, popular cheerleader chicks— picture a talented fashion designer and a topnotch video effects producer, each with a heart the size of the earth and a killer sense of humor. When I realized I wasn’t going to get extra hang time with those two and I got asked to assistant stage manage a professional theatre company’s play, I swiftly ducked out of letting anyone else put their Ked on my right shoulder.
This November, I have felt like a whole cheer squad, kicking my shins up to my nose with excitement for the feats of writer Jennifer Gandin Le as she approached and crossed the 50,000 word finish line in just 28 days + an hour or two. She had 30 days to finish and even though she was knocked down for the better part of a week by a sick baby, she came back strong and added a couple thousand extra words to her novel on top of the 50,000 word challenge. This was all part of National Novel Writing Month, and lucky for me, Jennifer cheered me on the whole way to that purple “winner” bar.
We conspired to encourage each other when I was in her hometown for the Austin Film Festival. We had been members of a diverse and impressive writers’ group in New York from its beginnings, so the kinship was already there. I don’t think I realized, though, how meaningful and encouraging it would be to share the lonely task of writing with someone thousands of miles away— neither of us really knowing what the other was writing (my word count included bracketed questions and notes to self like the one in the first paragraph of this blog), just knowing that we were doing it.
By the way, we also chatted about this blog over the best queso and margarita in Texas— and had a good laugh about how what “she does” may not actually be this. It’s a challenge to share more words here when you’re already trying to write a novel, a play, and a couple of screenplays in a single year. I’ve continued to think about this space though, so you may find me here again on another day when I have share-able thoughts that don’t fit in one of my story worlds. My favorite experiment on How She Does It was curating posts by other creatives who amaze and inspire. So… if that’s you, let us know. We’re more than happy to cheer you on too!