Everyone embarks on a journey of self-love or self-exploration at some point (or many points) in their lives. Feelings and emotions run can run high as you emerge from your teen years in to adulthood; with changes and realizations occur that are nearly impossible to brace for, and it can be all-too-easy to have feelings of isolation or inferiority. In reality, you’re not alone; and author and motivational #girlboss Jolie Brownell is here to tell you just that. In her new book Me Too, 17-year-old Brownell shares essays, blog posts, and personal anecdotes she saved along her journey towards self-love, providing comfort and confidence to anyone in that position, too.
What was your initial inspiration for writing Me Too?
I have always loved writing and I’ve always wanted to write a book, but it was my wonderful mother who inspired the idea of writing this specific book. I have been guest blogging for a long time, so all of my writing was on their blogs/websites. My mother encouraged me to save the blog posts for myself— and rolling my eyes (like the teenager I am), I said “okay, fine.” So, I saved them for myself, but after saving them all I noticed that I had over 100 blog posts and I had no idea what to do with them. So that’s when the idea of making a book out of them was born. I took pieces out of my favorite blogs and wrote poems and short stories to go along with them, then I put them together and BAM! a book!
What do you hope to accomplish through the book’s message?
My ultimate goal for this book is to empower girls— not only to help them feel more confident in who they are but to push them to dream big and go after those dreams.
They say that the “future is female” but I believe us girls are also the present and can make a huge difference now! No more waiting, no more doubting, it’s time to change the world— one girl at a time!
What was the writing/illustration process like?
The process was a crazy long one— it took me two years to write (two years to accumulate so many blogs) and then it took me another six months to self-publish. I could not have done it, though, without asking my community/family and friends for help. A family friend, Sally Morrow, designed both the cover and the interior layouts. Martha Rich then illustrated the cover, and some other family friends/editors Jen Johnson and Stephanie Rosic edited the material, while my mentor Lee Layne helped me out with all the legal side of publishing a book. Let me tell you, I had the dream team!
Did you experience any challenges/surprises during the writing process?
Yes, there were many challenges and surprises during this writing process. Because I decided to self-publish, my first challenge was learning how to ask for help. As a very independent person, asking for help has always been hard for me. But it was necessary in order to get this book done. Yet, it was through asking for help that I found many incredible people who came alongside me to help makes this book a reality. It was a really cool feeling to know that people were inspired by my book idea that they were willing to volunteer their time and talent towards my book.
As for surprises, at first I thought it would take me a year to publish, but it only took 6 1/2 months!
Do you have any advice for teens exploring the possibility of writing their own book?
Yes, I have 3 points of advice for those who want to write their own book:
- Start writing— it doesn’t matter if it is fiction or non-fiction, if you have a whole idea thought out or nothing at all, just start writing. If you’re an “I can barely write a page” kind of person, then write one page at a time. stop making excuses, start writing your story!
- Ask for help— You are going to need help at some point during this publishing process, so never be afraid to ask for help or be afraid and still ask. The worst thing they can say is “no,” and you’ll just have to find someone else. One of my favorite quotes by Oprah is “you get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
- Don’t QUIT— but don’t put it off either. It’s easy to say, “oh I’ll just finish writing my book later;” but guess what? Life happens, and later turns into never – or who knows how many years later…so if you want to write a book, do it now and don’t stop. It will take time. My book took me two years to write, so give yourself that time. If things don’t get rolling like you want them to, stop, take a breath, and remember that everything happens when it is supposed to! Just have faith— you got this!
Tell us about your blog, MTG.
Yes, MTG— short for “Me Too Girl”— is a blog I started to go alongside my book. I love to write and so creating a blog would allow me to keep writing. The main topic of MTG is girl empowerment, but my hope is to tackle topics a lot of blogs on girl empowerment don’t touch on. Things like what it really means to “love yourself” or “be yourself,” because if we’re honest, those phrases are kind of broad. Anyway, my overall goal for MTG is to write the most epic self-love story ever!
Thank you, Jolie, for courageously sharing your story with the world, and giving a voice to the struggles and hardships we all endure on some level, at some point. You can purchase Me Too on Amazon (we passionately recommend it!). Be sure to also check out the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter to hear other women’s stories and share in their empowerment and liberation.