Although I’ve been writing stories since before I learned to write (I put together picture books which I “read” to my family), I decided that I officially wanted to be a writer when I was 10 years old, thanks to the encouragement of a substitute teacher who I didn’t fully appreciate at the time (Mr. Helgerson, if you’re out there, THANK YOU!). A few years later, my life got a little rocky; my family was going through transition as I was trying to fight puberty off with a stick. I also became the target of intense bullying.
Although you couldn’t pay me to go back to that time, it continues to be a time in girls’ lives that I care deeply about. It was too painful to write about at the time, but I did continue to write through it. My writing became a way to escape from what was happening, and I may have hardly survived high school if I wasn’t constantly sneaking away in my mind to plot my first novel. At that point, I also realized the value in the catharsis of writing, filling piles of notebooks with my day-to-day thoughts and events. When I discovered the Internet, I thought I was in heaven. Not only was I able to connect with people like me far from my lonely little town, but I was able to share my writing with a real audience. As far as I was concerned, posting my stories online was as good as being published.
That’s one of the reasons that I strongly support venues for girls’ expression, and it’s definitely key to why I worked for New Moon Girl Media for six years on staff. (I continue to work with them by contract.) New Moon provides both a magazine and web community where girls can connect with one another and share their creative work, all within an emotionally and physically safe environment. The presence of adult moderators makes NewMoon.com one of the safest places for girls on the web. It’s incredibly important that places like New Moon continue to exist for girls, which is why I encourage you to participate in New Moon’s initiative to give 500 gift subscriptions in the month of August. You can donate a subscription to a library, school, or girl in your life, or pass a flyer on to people who care about girls. On behalf of girls everywhere, I thank you.