Guest Post: Writing toward Mattering by Beth Kephart

by Ruby on June 21, 2010

As many reviewers of my novels have noted, my characters tend toward worry. Can they fit in, and should they? Will they be noticed, and by whom? Will they find, within themselves, the capacity and talent to leave the sort of mark they hope to someday leave upon the world? My characters live with doubt, but they live forward. They push through, as Georgia does, in The Heart is Not a Size, and discover their own value.

The girls in my books don’t just worry, of course. They’re intelligent girls; they make a difference. In Heart, Georgia and her best friend Riley take a trip to Juarez to help build a community bathroom in a squatter’s village. Juarez is hot and poor and crowded; the girls hardly sleep. They lug two by fours around on a building site and move wheelbarrows full of loose dirt. And yet it is in Juarez that they become stronger people—wiser, more self sufficient, more aware of all the good they have in their lives and all they might be doing with it. It is in Juarez that their friendship is tested. They must worry through, but they will make it. They will have answered many of their own most secret questions.

I believe in writing books for the kind of young reader I have the privilege of so often meeting—alert to the world, alive to possibilities, intelligent, and forward thinking. The Heart is Not a Size emerged from that sacred place of reaching back into me and, at the same time, reaching out toward the young people who teach me what really matters.

Beth Kephart is an author, blogger and the strategic planning and writing partner of a boutique communications firm. The Heart is Not a Size is her twelfth critically acclaimed book; she has been named a National Book Award finalist and an author in residence for readergirlz (among many other awards).

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina Kenison 06.21.10 at 11:37 am

Isn’t this what we all do, adults and teens alike? We worry through. And if we attend closely to what really matters, we do somehow manage to answer our own most secret questions. Thank you Beth, for writing books that transcend age and gender and easy niches. Instead you write to our own best selves, in trust that truth is always gratefully received. Bravo. Great post.

Beth Kephart 06.21.10 at 2:42 pm

Thank you SO much for having me here today. It means a lot!

Ruby 06.22.10 at 12:02 pm

@Beth – you’re welcome! Great post, too.

senior alert 08.07.10 at 1:09 pm

Dear Beth,
I purchased The Heart Is Not A Size for a teenage daughter of a very good friend. Here’s the kicker I didn’t know that my friend’s young daughter (age 14) was toying around with the “a” word. After talking with my friend it almost seemed like her daughter thought this dreadful disease was something to play around with. The book gently released the lid off this secret.
Thank you.

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