This sentence—these two little words said by Oscar-nominated screenwriter, actress, and bestselling author Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Instant Mom) on today’s Beautiful Writers Podcast, seem so obvious, right? Of course, writers write! What else would we/they be doing? Other than those billion other things hijacking our attention. As you’re about to hear, even top-of-the-mountain authors, like Nia and Cheryl Strayed (Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things—which Nia’s adapted for the stage), continuously struggle to write in these crazy times.
So, if you’re reading this with one ear tuned to news of the dumpster fires in Washington, and/or other noisy alerts, alarms, and/or amusements, I think you’ll find this conversation beyond comforting. Like a, “Where do I send my therapy payment?” type of relief. At least that’s the effect their words had on me. I practically cheered when I got off this call—feeling so much better about life, humanity, and what I’ve been increasingly concerned might be my slipping sanity.
And then I sat down and wrote. A lot.
I first fell in love with Cheryl and Nia together after seeing the stage production of Tiny, Beautiful Things in Pasadena. Nia was playing the lead role of Sugar—Cheryl’s advice columnist alter ego—and although Cheryl’s book had slayed me and was one of my favorites, I was wholly unprepared for experiencing the material live. If you’re even remotely able to see a performance, wrangle your sisters, brothers, besties, older children, and parents. Bring your hankies and be ready to laugh and cry as you thank your lucky stars for the makers, the dreamers, the artists, the translators—those who put it all on the line so we can experience this nearly unbearably beautiful degree of art + humanity.
Cheryl’s on deadline for a new book and has been struggling to finish a short story. Nia’s just finished a few screenplays and is deep in the weeds on another. I’ve felt blocked on which way to go on a book for years and am only just figuring it out. So I decided to ask them the writer-in-the-trenches questions that I most needed—and I’m guessing you do too!
Cheryl and Nia’s playful, thoughtful, deeply HONEST answers brought relief for us all.
Idols unplugged. Ahhhh. It feels like the writing gods were smiling. The tech gods—well, they can be a little harder to appease. You’ll notice a few scratchy cell-phone reception moments, but we do what we can, people, from our homes and in our pajamas.
Regardless, I feel like the luckiest person with a call-in conference line and a dream. And, triply so because I get to share these once-in-a-lifetime conversations with you.
PS. Want to share your love with these two ladies? Gratitude and writerly wisdom always appreciated over here on the Facebook thread. xo