We learn about writing with courage to rise in this guest post from author Tricia Jacobson. She shares what inspired her to write Nova: The Courage to Rise, and the hurdles and twists and turns she overcame in the process.
I started on a journey to write a book in early 2020 that I felt inadequate to take. I had convinced myself that I was not a writer, let alone an author. But I was passionate and felt a conviction to do it. I was passionate about inspiring and encouraging girls to thrive. Being the mother to four girls certainly contributes to this passion. This process—of creating the book and realizing my vision—confirmed for me that passion can take you places you can’t begin to imagine. I went into this process naïve and blind to the publishing world. And I’m glad I did. It was hard at times. It stretched me in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Wow has it been a journey.
Writing with courage: the courage to rise
Nova: The Courage to Rise started as nonfiction. It outlined so many lessons that I wanted girls to feel as passionate about as I did. Lessons to inspire, to motivate, and to help my readers grow. After many months of writing and sweating and rewriting, my first draft of the manuscript was complete.
Then I realized that the teen girls I was writing for prefer reading fiction. A known truth that I kept ignoring because I had set my mind on nonfiction. (Insert pivot.) A pivot from nonfiction to fiction. A pivot from trying to inspire through words of advice alone—to inspiring through a story. A feat I could not have accomplished without my publisher, Boni (at Ingenium Books), and my creative co-writer, Marie Beswick Arthur.
We now have a fictional story about two seventeen-year-old girls—Stella and Aurora—on an inner city camping adventure. The discovery of a torn bit of someone else’s homework leads them on a quest during which they explore issues of self-love and self-worth while learning the value of being part of a community working toward a greater good. When they can’t afford to recharge the data on their phones, they’re surprised to find deeper connections with themselves, each other, and those around them. They learn about the importance of empathy and kindness, authenticity and trustworthiness, positive self-talk and body image, new ways to think about faith, and that they can choose to think differently about their past to build a meaningful future.
While they’re questlisting (a word Aurora and Stella use), a surprising encounter helps Aurora answer questions about what happened to her mother—answers she’s not sure she’s ready to hear. And Stella’s journey puts her on an unexpected path: that of being a leadership resource for other young women just like her who are searching for themselves and a better life.
Why was I writing this book?
Prior to pivoting, I was convinced that I was writing for all teen girls. That was my goal, but my publisher kept reminding me to go back to my “why.”
Why was I writing this book? Why was I inspired in the first place?
My answer: A teen girl named Lily in western Kansas being raised by her 83-year-old grandfather. All by himself. I was inspired by the Lily’s of the world; the girls who are being raised by fathers or grandfathers. Girls being raised in the foster system. Girls who don’t have a strong support system and girls just looking for another source of inspiration. After revisiting my “why” and many discussions with Boni and Marie, two things happened. First, it renewed my focus on the importance of writing with courage. And second, it was obvious that the girls I wanted this book to reach were the very girls my nonprofit was serving.
The Beauty in Everything Foundation
Just a year prior to starting this book journey, I started the Beauty in Everything Foundation. A nonprofit committed to the development of girls and young women by giving them access to resources and the tools girls need to thrive. The Beauty in Everything Foundation was formed after years of meeting and working with girls who didn’t have motherly figures in their lives (not discounting fathers because fathers play an equally important role), but girls naturally lean on mothers to navigate the teen years. Also, girls who simply don’t have the resources in their lives to thrive.
The pivot from nonfiction to fiction also included a pivot from reaching all teen girls to focusing on the girls we are serving in my nonprofit. The girls who need someone to come along, take their hand, and show them what they are capable of. We live in a world full of opportunities and resources—and equally full of girls who don’t know how to obtain those opportunities and resources. So many girls are being left behind and I won’t stand for it. No girl deserves to be left behind. My hope is this book touches the lives of many girls, to inspire them to thrive.
The Beauty in Everything Box
At the foundation we offer several programs and initiatives to connect girls to the resources they need to thrive. Our programs and initiatives include the Beauty in Everything Box, the Kindness Project, and we connect girls to other nonprofits and resources in our communities that can assist with mental health, physical health, teen pregnancy, abuse, suicide, educational opportunities, scholarships, and more. Our most popular program is the Beauty in Everything Box. A box girls can have sent to them, wherever they are, at no cost. It’s a box filled with basic hygiene and feminine essentials, hygiene tips, and inspirational messages. Girls can request a monthly box on our website here.
Nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products. At puberty, many girls’ confidence plummets, but the drop in confidence is so much worse for girls that lack access to hygiene and feminine essentials. It can force her to miss out on important confidence-building activities in the classroom, on the field, in extra-curricular activities, and limit her potential far beyond puberty. This is one program we are so passionate about and want to expand.
Our goal by the end of the 2021 is to get 500 monthly boxes in the hands of girls who need them. We won’t stop there. We have big goals of growing the number of boxes girls receive as well as expanding distribution locations for girls who would rather pick up a box.
We have another goal, and that is to include a copy of Nova: The Courage to Rise in as many boxes as we can. We want girls to feel connected and inspired beyond just the inspirational messages we include in the boxes. We want to give them an opportunity to find inspiration through the book as well. You can find ways to help support the project of getting Nova: The Courage to Rise into each box by clicking on this link. Please join us in this journey of inspiring and empowering girls to thrive.
A Journey of Inner Growth
Through the many transitions this book went through, including my idea of what the title and book cover would look like, Nova: The Courage to Rise turned out out to be exactly what it is meant to be. A book that takes girls on a journey of inner growth, just like the one I’ve been on while becoming an author. A book with a story that encourages girls to embrace the courage to rise, just as I have embraced writing with courage.