I've got a slightly different sort of book for you to learn about today... It's called BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Thompson and it's about kids taking charge to change their worlds for the better - powerful stuff! And something I fully support, which is why I was thrilled Laurie wanted to stop by to talk about it...
I started working on Be a Changemaker in 2004. At the time, I was working on another book about ordinary people who had done extraordinary things. This is a common theme in much of my work, probably because I yearn to do extraordinary things despite feeling so very ordinary myself!
While researching that book, I came across David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, which contains case studies of social entrepreneurs around the world who started innovative programs to solve various kinds of social problems in their local communities. I was so excited by Bornstein’s stories of individuals who had built lasting, meaningful organizations from the ground up and the myriad ways they had directly improved people’s lives. I remember shaking the book at my husband and saying, “You know who needs a book like this? Teenagers! If they knew they were capable of making the changes they care about, the world would be a better place for all of us. Why doesn’t someone write a book like this for them?” Obviously, that was a light bulb moment! I was someone, after all, so I would just have to write the book myself. With a new focus, I turned all my energies toward developing what would become Be a Changemaker.
The people profiled in How to Change the World were all fellows in an organization called Ashoka, whose slogan is “Everyone a changemaker.” I soon discovered that Ashoka had a division called Youth Venture, which is specifically aimed at empowering young people to make positive changes in their communities, and one of their flagship offices was in Seattle, not far from my home. It felt like it was meant to be!
Youth Venture invited me to attend a community workshop they were offering. The energy and enthusiasm there was infectious! The teens were thrilled to talk about the problems they saw in their communities and excited to work together to try to find solutions. Seeing them in action validated my ideas for Be a Changemaker. Everyone I met from the Youth Venture staff was supportive, too, despite the fact that I had never even written a book, much less published one! They knew that sometimes passion and persistence can be more important than experience, and their confidence in me was a huge boost.
I got to work researching, drafting, and revising a proposal. I submitted the proposal for critique, got positive feedback, and kept going. I submitted again, got less positive feedback, and put it away. I learned more. I went back and started over again and again and again, round and round. After six years of this, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere and submitted the proposal to an agent. She liked it but wanted me to address a few issues. Feeling like I only had one chance to get it right, I worked on that revision for an entire year. It worked! Surely the hard part was over, right?
Anyone who knows publishing knows it’s rarely that easy. It still took a while to find the perfect home for it, and then I had to finish writing it and go through the editorial process under tight deadlines and facing some unexpected medical challenges throughout. After all the initial waiting and painstaking refinement, I worried that the mad dash to the finish might cause me to lose sight of what I had been trying to accomplish and make me miss the mark I’d been shooting for all of those years.
In the end, though, it turned out even better than I ever imagined. My family was behind me every step of the way. I was fortunate enough to work with a team of people who understood the vision and helped me nurture it all along the way. And, eventually, the process itself ended up coming full circle in the most fulfilling ways: I got to profile Divine Bradley, the inspirational guest speaker at that first Youth Venture workshop, in chapter two of Be a Changemaker; Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, wrote the foreword; and David Bornstein read an advance copy and provided a quote. To an ordinary gal like me, that’s some pretty extraordinary stuff. And looking back on it now, it was worth every minute.
Laurie's favorite writing spot is her Treadmill Desk. Click here to learn more about it.
Blue Slip Media has kindly agreed to give a free copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below: