Thursday, August 21, 2008

When People Talk Behind My Back...

...It's not always a bad thing. Today I was at the grocery store, and I ran into one of my favorite high school English teachers, Mrs. Benjamin. (Isn't it fun to see your teacher at the grocery store?!) She told me that the other day she was at her health club, taking a shower, when she heard some women talking about me.

Now, I have to interrupt this story to tell you that over the last year, there have been a handful of nasty women in my town gossiping about me and my family in a very obnoxious way. Not that gossip is ever NOT obnoxious, but when grown women gossip about a thirteen-year-old girl, I find it particularly pitiful.

So, when Mrs. Benjamin said she overheard people talking about me, I feared the worst. Did my beloved teacher hear a rumor about me? Did these women stoop so low as to talk about me in a locker room? And was Mrs. Benjamin trying to find out the true story right here at the deli counter?

No. No. And no. Phew!

Instead, Mrs. Benjamin told me that the women were talking about my book, JULIA'S KITCHEN, and that one of the women said, "I could never have gotten through my mother's death without that book." Mrs. Benjamin almost jumped out of the shower to say, "I know Brenda Ferber! I was her teacher!" But she decided to finish shampooing instead.

It's weird how the world works. Here I am, struggling with emotions and dramas I haven't experienced since high school--being gossiped about... being judged... feeling misunderstood. And who do I see? A teacher who was like a lifeboat my senior year. Mrs. Benjamin always believed in me. And because of that, I believed in me, too. And because of that, I wrote a novel and didn't stop revising until it was good enough. And because of that, it got published. And because of that, a random woman read it and found something within it to help her deal with a horrible time in her life.

Makes you think, doesn't it? Even when you are in the middle of tough times, there are good people out there rooting for you. The positive energy in life will find its way to you whether it's in a parent, a friend, a teacher, or even a book. You just have to keep your head up and let it in.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Have you ever been "dropped" by a group of friends? Have you ever done the "dropping"? I am doing research for my new novel, and I would love to interview by phone or e-mail girls or women who have experienced this unfortunate rite of passage. It doesn't matter if the "dropping" happened last week or fifty years ago. It's one of those incidents that is not easily forgotten. So please, if you or someone you know has a story to share, leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail at BrendaAFerber at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to Basics

My husband and kids went to the Sox game today, so I had a nice chunk of time to work on my current manuscript. I decided to read what I had written so far, just to see where to go next. And you know what? It stinks. I mean really Stinks. Not in a way where I can revise it to make it better. But in a way where I feel absolutely no heart connection to the material anymore. The thought of spending another year on this novel makes me shudder.

Meanwhile, I've had a whole other story tugging at my heartstrings for the last couple of months. A real life yuckiness that is begging to be turned into fiction. So although I may have just wasted half a year of writing, I'm filing away this unfinished novel and starting something new.

Deep cleansing breath.

I am now opening up my old Institute of Children's Literature material, the program I followed when I wrote Julia's Kitchen. And I'm starting at the very beginning.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Just Keep Writing

Thank God I'm a Taurus. I honestly don't know what I'd do without my stubborn streak... or when looked at kindly... my persistence.

How else can you explain this insanity? I am on about page 85 of the first draft of this new novel. And it is terrible! I get to this point with every one of my manuscripts. Where I have absolutely no idea what the story is about, where every character seems flat, every plot line seems stupid, and the whole project seems like a big fat waste of time.

I would very much like to quit.

Yet I persist. I know that I have to just keep writing. I'm like Dori in Finding Nemo. "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming..."
I know that eventually I'll get to the end. And I'll revise and revise and revise. And out of all this work, something worthwhile will emerge.

I always tell kids that Real Life + Imagination = Story. But I've got a new equation to pass along: Stubbornness + Optimism = Dreams Coming True