Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published four novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, Believe and her latest, a young MG series about the worst fairy godmother ever, The Wish List (Scholastic, 2017). Titles forthcoming include her first nonfiction picture book, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books) Sarah loves working with other writers in one of her classes at Writers on the Net ( ) or the Highlights Foundation.

Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”
-The Velveteen Rabbit

So I have to admit, I’m a little bit speechless. Recently, I heard Jason Reynolds speak about his book, Long Way Down (highly highly highly recommended), and let’s just say:

That was book church. 

I have heard many writers talk about their processes. Or their platforms. Or their readers. I have learned so much about writing this way. But this was stunning. As in beautiful, and I WAS STUNNED. I couldn’t wait to get home and write!

Writers, I’ve never heard a writer speak his or her truth so plainly. Every single person–every writer, reader, parent, and child, left that room understanding the power of words.

There were many great takeaways.

First, he talked about the first time he heard his mother cry as well as the first time he heard his words out loud. These are the kinds of memories we have talked about. They shape us. They make us think. They elicit emotions.

He told one young writer: you can’t fix anything until it’s on the page. (And we all nodded!)

Re: education: Everything we need to know is at our fingertips. No excuses!

But for me, the zinger: Real recognizes real.

I love that. On so many levels.

We know REAL when we see it. We respond to it. We can’t help it.

And like the Velveteen Rabbit says: we can make real. 

How? The honest way. REAL comes from the heart, but it also comes from the willingness and confidence to share your heart. We can’t be real without love–love of story. Love of others. Love of even self.

It’s hard to flourish (as a writer) if you don’t know what you want to say or why you want to say it. It is even harder when you don’t trust your reader with your real. With your anger. Your grief. Your joy. The truth.

So today I urge you: Let’s make this our new habit. When we sit down to write, first let’s pause. Let’s FIND the REAL. It may not always be likable. Or marketable. Or even the story you thought you were telling. But when it comes to what I want to write and read–and what I think readers will respond to–it begins and ends with authentic. And how do we find that? I think that’s what this newsletter is about every single week. It’s about being honest. And fearless. It’s about sharing what makes you mad or sad or laugh until you cry.

Yesterday, in the audience I saw what happens when a writer is completely honest and straightforward and devoted to words and readers:

The people responded. And that should be no surprise. REAL makes all of us want to do better. For me, it made me even more dedicated to my characters and stories. Yes, they ALWAYS need fixing. But when the heart is there, we can do it.

Today’s prompt: 

Jot down an early memory–when words had power–when words inspired action. What were those words? What was your response???

Have a great writing month!

xo sarah