Happy Birthday, Jandy Nelson, born 25 November 1965
- I wrote The Sky Is Everywhere like a banshee, wrote a mess of a first draft in five months, then ten more drafts in the next two years, before sending it out to agents. I was a shut-in, completely lost in the story, obsessed with bringing it to life.
- Each time someone dies, a library burns.
- What’s so odd is that despite the subject matter, writing Sky was the happiest time of my life. I was falling in love with writing fiction so that in itself was a joy. But more importantly, I feel like I discovered over and again by writing the book the same thing Lennie discovered within the book, that grief and love are conjoined and you can’t have one without the other, and that somehow love is eternal.
- This quote by John Keats is a favourite: “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of the imagination.”
- Who wants to know that the person you love and need the most can just vanish forever?
- I’d write in the mornings, early, usually from 5 am to about 9 am and then whenever I could throughout the day (sometimes on napkins in restaurants, scraps of paper in the car, like Lennie actually, except I keep all scribbles) and I’d write again at night, and all day on weekends.
- My favourite part about being a writer is being totally lost inside a story, so immersed that your fictional life overtakes your real one. I love the madness of that, when the story is pouring out and you feel this crazy urgency to get it down before you lose it. It’s totally euphoric, and yes, completely wacko. I also love playing with words, fiddling endlessly. I like to kind of just stare zombie-like at my computer screen for days living inside a particular sentence or scene or section trying to make it better, to bring it to life. My least favourite part is self-promotion.
- Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.
- How will I survive this missing? How do others do it? People die all the time. Every day. Every hour. There are families all over the world staring at beds that are no longer slept in, shoes that are no longer worn. Families that no longer have to buy a particular cereal, a kind of shampoo. There are people everywhere standing in line at the movies, buying curtains, walking dogs, while inside, their hearts are ripping to shreds. For years. For their whole lives. I don’t believe time heals.
- You can tell your story any way you damn well please. It’s your solo.
Nelson is an American writer for children and young adults and a literary agent. She is well known for The Sky is Everywhere . To find out more, visit jandynelson.com
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