Last night, I received a slap in the face. Or rather, a slap to the heart. I was reading through some recent blog posts by writer friends and I came across the line below from Austin writer, Nikki Loftin. She was writing about Poison, a debut YA novel by Bridget Zinn, which was published in March of this year by Disney Hyperion.
"On those days when I feel like surfing the Internet or eating my weight in M&Ms
instead of writing, seeing Bridget’s book reminds me that we don’t know
how much time we have to fulfill our dreams." Nikki Loftin
Sadly, Bridget Zinn did not live to see her book in print. She died of cancer in 2011, aged just thirty-three.
Poison was originally due for release in 2012, the same year in which Nikki made her own debut with The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, but publication was delayed for obvious reasons until spring of this year. When Nikki was approached by Bridget’s cousin to take part in an event at The Book People in Austin to promote Poison on Bridget’s behalf, she jumped at the chance. And then, of course, she blogged about it here – a very moving piece and I think a fitting tribute to a fellow writer.
The slap in the face for me came not only from Nikki’s words - “we don’t know how much time we have to fulfill our dreams” – but also from reading through one of Bridget’s own blog posts - here - about her own path to publication, written shortly before she died when she was clearly in a lot of pain. Even faced with rejections of her first novel, she had continued to write, to study, to attend conferences and study days. Then she started her second novel and finished it, and still continued to look firmly towards a future in which she would be a published novelist. At almost the exact time of her cancer diagnosis she heard that her second novel, Poison, had been picked up for publication. Bridget continued to work on the revisions even after she began treatment, something that requires extraordinary strength of will and courage.
Reading through Bridget and Nikki’s posts, I realized that I have rather thrown away this summer so far. I have too easily given in to the excuses of having too much to do with the children or the house or visitors, and I have given up whatever writing discipline I had developed during school time. Other than a few blog posts and one non-fiction article, I have written almost nothing. Also, because I have been waiting for news from a literary agent who requested my full manuscript a couple of months ago, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t possibly concentrate on the revisions that my second novel so badly needs or on continuing beyond Chapter 4 with my third. If I take nothing else from Bridget’s spirit and Nikki’s words, it is that I can’t sit around and wait for someone to hand me publication on a plate. How can I know what lies just around the corner for me which might throw an even bigger challenge than time management in my path?
So tomorrow, I am going to Barnes & Noble and I will buy Poison, not only for me and my kids, but also as gifts for friends back in the UK. I am also going to suggest it as a novel this coming year for our mother/daughter book club, and I am going to tell everyone I talk to about it too. Bridget deserves her success, she worked long and hard for it.
And then, I am going to get my laptop out, find a relatively quiet spot somewhere away from children and the laundry and I will get on with the revisions to that second novel, and then with Chapters 5, 6, 7… of the third!
Thank you, Bridget, you have inspired me.
To read reviews of Poison or to by a copy of the book, visit: www.bridgetzinn.com.
For more information on Nikki Loftin and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, visit: www.nikkiloftin.com.