|Laurie Ann Thompson|
You Gotta Have Friends
My upcoming book, Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, is for teens who want to make a difference in their communities or around the world. There are three reasons why I find it so wonderfully appropriate that Kirby asked me to write about it for her Friend Friday series, and I’m deeply honored to be able to share those reasons here today.
1. Friendship is a key part of changemaking. First, what drives a person to want to effect social change is empathy, and empathy is also what allows one to be a good friend. Second, if you’re going to try to change the world (or even a tiny piece of it), it sure helps if you can get some good friends to join you! Third, when you venture out on such an ambitious mission—guided by your passion and revealing your most authentic self—you’re practically guaranteed to make a bunch of like-minded new friends along the way. I hope teens who read Be a Changemaker will have a blast making a real difference for others alongside their truest friends, old and new.
2. Writing often feels like a solitary endeavor, but friendship is a key part of writing, too. Publishing a book is a long haul. Be a Changemaker, which releases next week, was a ten-year journey from idea to publication. You can bet that road had many unexpected ups and downs, twists and turns. If it weren’t for my friends, writers and others, I literally couldn’t have done it. Their encouragement kept me going through the hard times, and their support cheered me on during the good times. Thank you, friends, for making me a better writer… and a better person!
3. Some of my most treasured friends are my mentors, and Kirby herself is one of the best. I wrote about one example in chapter 6 of Be a Changemaker, so I’ll share a different one here. Many years ago Kirby and I were at a conference in Portland with several other writing buddies. After the day’s sessions ended, everyone started making plans for some social time, but I blubbered something about needing to go back to my room. Everyone was concerned I wasn’t feeling well, but I couldn’t even explain it—I just had to get out of there! Kirby recognized my condition immediately: “Oh, honey,” she said, putting her hand gently on my arm, “now you just go take an introvert moment, and then come join us when you’re ready.” Genius! I now schedule “introvert moments” ahead of time, so I can avoid getting to that point of complete social overwhelm.
Are you a changemaker? You might not think so, but I bet you are someone’s friend. That’s where changemaking starts. And you never know where it’ll go from there.
Laurie Ann Thompson grew up in rural northern Wisconsin. A former software engineer, she now writes for children and young adults to help her readers--and herself--make better sense of the world we live in, so they can contribute to making it a better place for all of us. She strives to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. Her books include BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS (Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, September 2014), a teen how-to guide filled with practical advice and plenty of inspiration for beginning social entrepreneurs; EMMANUEL'S DREAM (Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House, January 2015), a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who changed Ghana's perception of people with disabilities; and MY DOG IS THE BEST (FSG/Macmillan, June 2015), an adorable picture book about the unconditional love that exists between a child and a family pet. Read more about her here.