Monday, October 6, 2008

Stories Wanted

The American Red Cross is always low on blood and trying to get folks to roll up their sleeves to donate. In an effort to develop a more effective campaign, they did some research on why people don't donate. The most common response was: "No one asked me." So, they launched their "Consider Yourself Asked" campaign! I feel the same about art, writing and other creative, constructive endeavors. I meet a lot of folks who have either "been meaning to" write that book, or pick up the brush, or write that song, or film their grandparents telling the famous family stories... or those folks who have not thought of it - or haven't done so in a very long time. 

 SO - consider yourself asked. 

Write a Post-it note and put it on your bathroom mirror. 

Tell a friend, "I've started a book!" 
(Try to avoid: "I'm thinking about writing a book." 

Thinking about it, in my world, IS part of the process of DOING it. Combine the two for success. Dream and do. Some people dream. Some people dream and do!) The drawing above I made today to help me share something to help people to take action. The surprise invitation that might trigger the "next step." This image reminds me of when I was walking by a restaurant under construction in Harvard Square in the winter of 1986. There was a sign on the door: "Artist Wanted." I thought: "That's me!" 

I walked into the noise place, sawdust flying, sparks shooting from welding torches, and found the manager, Mike Eberly. "We're calling this place "The Border Cafe" and we want big murals of old Tabasco labels and the like. Do you paint murals?" I, of course, said yes. I had not YET painted a mural, but I could imagine it wasn't much different than painting on a sheet of paper. I had a LOT to learn! And boy, did I learn! (My mentor, Aldo Servino and I ended up painting 17 murals for the Border Cafe!) I'll save the details of that story for another time, but the lesson from my story is that a simple sign from the universe might be your invitation in... and do not worry if you lack the experience. 

 The experience begins by accepting the challenge, sometimes bravely, and making it real.


TJ Shay said...

Please make sure that the follow-up story has pictures of the murals!

I love the concept you present in this blog post. Thanks for this reminder and challenge!

Peter H. Reynolds said...

Thanks, Terry! I DO have a photo somewhere in my collection of one or two of the murals. A few of the murals still exist intact after 20 years - so anyone wandering through Harvard Square, pop in and take a peek. The big "Tabasco" mural was one of mine. Old labels were all hand-created. There are some wonderful old labels out there! have a bunch.

Anonymous said...

This is such a timely post as I set out this week to meet with students who will help me plan NYSCATE's first ever Student Symposium. I'm going to share this post on the Facebook, MySpace groups as we go forth to recruit students to share what they are doing or step out and start doing.

Love to catch up with you at some point to talk of your presence at this event.

Peter H. Reynolds said...

Glad this piece resonated with you and your exciting new initiative. I'd love to connect and explore ways I might be able to help.

Anonymous said...

Aldo Servino..... that name brings back memories of abundant garden dinners in Watertown (???). Great site Peter ! TC/Lars

Iowa State Fans said...

My mom and I (separately) want to write books. She was a preschool/kindergarten teacher and has such amazing stories she tells my kids (ones she has made up)....

I have always thought I am a children's book waiting to happen as so many quirky things happen in my daily life.

I was just expressing to Britton and Alison that you no longer have to wait until you are 14 to work towards something (i.e. earning money) as you have the world (literally) at your fingertips. Britton has written several stories (Iowa State one comes to mind) and Britton, alison and my mom wrote a story about my grandma's alzheimers.....and britton and my mom wrote a book about how they watch the moon at night....why can't we figure out how to get these launched? Such AMAZING stories....and I am an AVIDE reader of children's books. We own LITERALLY thousands and I see our stories just as good if not better than some that are published....HELP!

Your blog posting may be JUST what we all needed! :) You are so amazing Peter :)

Peter H. Reynolds said...

Music to my ears! My goal is to spark, nudge, encourage, inspire.
Today is the day. Why wait?

TJ Shay said...

Dear Iowa State Fans:

I wanted to share a link and company I learned about through the great Peter H. Reynolds... LULU

Everyone CAN be an author and be published.....they only need a computer and to BE BRAVE!!!

Iowa State Fans said...

Thanks TJ Shay.....I will start investigating this site right away and share it with all of my educator friends (and moms who want to help their kids on the road to publishing)!

Maribeth Bush said...

"Iowa State fans" and Terry -- Peter told me about too... even though he's never used it himself!

They say that invention is born from necessity, and I think children's books are born that way sometimes as well! About 5 or 6 years ago I was working with three first grade girls who were deeply entwined a friendship triangle - two girls unable to share the third. I searched and couldn't find a children's book on the topic, so I fired up my trusty Wacom tablet and Flash program, and created (wrote and illustrated) my own story!

I made a print copy with my printer, but also created an online version that my students could read at home with their parents. However, as it turns out, many educators found the online version of my story over the past five years, and many emailed me to ask if there was a print version of the book available for purchase. I started sending my manuscript around to "traditional" publishers for a couple of years, without any luck, while still receiving emails from very eager and interested educators.

At some point not long ago, Peter mentioned to me, so I investigated, and publishing my story, "Sharing Friends", via was my summer project this year... in other words, it's "What I did this summer."

I have to say, it's was a mighty exiting moment to hold the first copy of my book in my hands!

So, yes, not only should you take the plunge and write that story, but there are many ways to "publish" these days - from online versions that you can post in a web site yourself, to self publishing via a "Print On Demand" (POD) company like

Go for it!

p.s. My story, Sharing Friends, is at, if anyone wants to take a peek. And/or you can check out the original online version at (I did revise the story before publishing the printed version - fine tuned, tweaked, etc... but it's very much the same story).

(ok, I'm definitely going to copy this comment of mine and make it the next entry on my own blog!).

Jillian Dister said...


Just wanted to say I love your drawings and can't wait to see what you create next :)

Anonymous said...

Aldo Servino is an old friend of mine.