This is a picture from one of my favorite days ever, with some of my favorite women ever. But I wanna talk for just a second about that beautiful brunette on my right (your left) for a second.
That’s Callie Feyen. She’s on the writing team with me over at Coffee + Crumbs, which is how I met her and came to take this picture with her at the book launch party last April. Callie has taught me more about writing in the 18 months I’ve known her (like really known her, not just Internet-stalked-her-essays known her) than I learned in my previous 33 years combined. Why? Well, because she’s a flatout brilliant storyteller and you learn how to do it by, I dunno, osmosis or something, when you spend time with her and soak up her words. But also, because she’s a teacher through and through. Middle schoolers are her special gift (bless her) but she can’t NOT teach. It’s in her, and it spills out without even trying.
When I was working on a particularly hard essay last spring—hard because it was honest and vulnerable and costing me everything to work with the words—I knew I needed help. I also knew that help had to come from Callie. She came in with practical advice (like changing up the intro and ending on a bit of a cliffhanger) but it was also like therapy in a way, because of how she pushed me to just sit with the words and the feelings they brought me, to sift through and figure out the parts I wanted to hold onto and the ones I wanted to let go of. I am really proud of how that essay turned out, but I’m even prouder of the work in my heart it wrought, and that was all Callie.
Today is a big day. Callie has a written a book, The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet, and it’s book launch day. If you like brilliant storytelling, you need to buy Callie’s book. It’s part memoir, part creative-non-fiction, and part masterclass in how to teach Romeo & Juliet to middle schoolers. She weaves the three together seamlessly and her way with words is … impressive. I got to read the first two chapters last week, and let’s just say I had to order it with one-day shipping from Amazon so I can read the rest of it as soon as possible.
I’m so proud of my friend.