Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter. She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together. Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming. You can find her on her blog, or on twitter.
by Elizabeth Norris
by Elizabeth Norris
I live in New York City. When I moved from California, this was a risk. Not only was I leaving behind a great number of friends, but I was also leaving behind a job and financial security.
I didn’t move because I wanted to write a book. I moved because I needed a change in my life. I was stuck in a rut, and I was unhappy. I needed to seize the day and carve out the future I wanted to make.
For me, it's one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even during those few months when I was living on rice and beans and trying to stretch a hundred dollars a week into a livable wage, I still knew I’d made the right choice.
Here's why. New York City inspires me. It's the only place I've ever lived where I can walk anywhere (and not own a car!), see the most beautiful woman and the craziest guy in the world at the same time, and meet and converse with people who are so different from me, and yet so alike--all in the same week.
It's the only place I've lived that continues to reinforce my appreciation for everything in my life.
There have been a number of times when I was seriously glad that I took the risk to leave California and go east. (I guess if it hadn't panned out, I'd be singing a different song, but right now I'm grateful to that Mr. Keating speech).
A few weeks ago, I was walking through Times Square and I stopped for a burger and fries at Shake Shack (I love living in New York for the food alone) and I shared a table with a couple from Chicago. We had the kind of conversation that would only be possible between complete strangers, the kind where you can say anything because you'll most likely never see these people again.
When I told them I had written a book and that Unraveling was coming out in April, the woman told me she wanted to be a writer.
She was a teacher and she wanted to write children's books. She asked about the industry and my agent and what the publication process for me had been like.
After I answered her questions, her husband smiled and teased her, saying "Now that you know how to get something published, you'll have to actually write something."
For a second, I felt like he was talking to me. Because I’d been there. I’d been that person who wanted to do something, but never actually did. Whether it was writing a book, taking a photography class, or just trying something new, there were things I’d wanted to do, and I never did them.
I told myself I didn’t have the time or that I’d have the chance to do it later, when I had more time. I told myself that I wasn’t good enough or that I’d be wasting my time. I even told myself that my ideas were stupid anyway.
And this is one of the most important things that the move to NY has done for me. It woke me up. Because if I could move across the country and take charge of my own life, then I could do anything.
When I lived in CA, I wrote sometimes during the summers, and even then I was easily distracted. If it felt hard, I stopped. If my boyfriend wanted to go watch baseball at a bar, I stopped. If there was a Law and Order SVU marathon on, I stopped (and those things are on TNT all the time).
I'm not sure exactly how or why NY inspired me, but it did. It inspired me meet new people, to try new things, and to break out of my comfort zone.
It inspired me to take the time to write something down instead of watching TV shows that I'd already seen, and it inspired me to not give up just because something was hard.
I hope everyone who has that desire to write a book can find the right thing that inspires them to seize the day and make it happen. Even more than that, I hope everyone who wants to do something, can believe in themselves and make it happen.