• Samantha McGurgan

[WHAT] Jennifer Weiner Made Me Do It

Updated: Mar 19


I met my writing hero, Jennifer Weiner. And we had a straight up MOMENT of connection that was so powerful, when I stepped away from the queue at the microphone and rejoined my husband in the audience, he said wow. I wished I’d thought to get that on video.


As soon as the questions portion of the evening was announced during her book signing, I jumped up to get a spot in line. A public speaker for a living, I don’t really get shy about this stuff. But boy, my body turned against me. I was nervous. This MATTERED to me. I had a very personal question to ask, and no choice but to ask in front of the audience. So, I did.


Shakily, asking:

“You wrote in an essay a few years ago that if you’ve been through this thing and that thing, that makes you a writer. I stand here today to say, yep, I’ve been through all those things. And, if you’d asked me when I was 7 what I was I would have proudly told you I’m a writer. However, here I am, in my 30’s and mostly thinking about, reading about, and talking about writing. Instead of actually doing it. What’s your advice for someone who just needs to get their story out but is stuck?”

She thanked me for asking this question. And encouraged me to write. Decide for myself that Writer is my title. Not to wait a moment longer for someone else to deem me as such. As I absorbed her advice, the weight of this personal interaction with a multiple New York Times best selling novelist settling in, I felt the tears coming. I wiped them away as casually as possible, one after another. Glad no one else was between her and myself, my back toward the crowd.


And it was as if her permission to allow myself to be what I was meant to be unlocked what had been buried away after all this time. All the commentary from outsiders that over time became my inner voice, echoing, you‘re never going to make any money, why bother, you’re not good enough, everyone else has already thought of that, etc. bubbled up, and released into the air. Vapor.


I raced to get in line for the book singing, and she remembered me. “I’m going to write you a special note.” She said.


Just do it, xoxo Jennifer Weiner

And I promised her I would.


So, here this goes. I’m following her advice, I’m deciding that I’m a writer. I’m tired of waiting for someone to deem me as such. It’s my sacred duty to tell my story, she says. Only I have my individual experience. All I have to do is stick to my voice (once I work out what that is).


So, here goes. This blog is intended as a platform for three themes: Who, What, and How.


I’ve read in “When” by Daniel Pink that when you get stuck writing (or doing anything), think about the one person who it’s going to help. So this is who I’ll be writing to:


If you have ever:

  • Been stuck in a job that has impacted your mental health

  • Worked up some serious courage and tried something new

  • Experienced the sting of rejection yet carried on despite this new wound, determined to heal

  • Left your job for a spousal relocation

  • Been the first one in your family to work in a professional setting

  • Been the first one in your family to graduate and or attend college

  • Been extremely nervous to interview

  • Made the heart wrenching decision to drop your child off at daycare

  • Made the heart wrenching decision to stay home with your child


Then, well, this is to you.


I promise to share what I have learned along the way, and hopefully you will too.


Xoxo,

Samantha





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North Andover, MA

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