Did you know that Molly Ringwald, the iconic ’80s star of Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, is also a literary fiction writer?
Recently, I attended a reading of her new short story collection When It Happens to You. I’ll admit it—I mainly showed up because she was an icon of my teenage years. Because of her, I almost resorted to sewing my own prom dress. My mom had the good sense to convince me otherwise; I had neither a sewing machine nor fashion sense and the dress was starting to look like a belly dancer’s costume.
Flash forward to this year, when I found out that Molly Ringwald had recently published a collection of fiction stories, and my adolescent idol gained about another million degrees of coolness.
She read from “My Olivia,” her haunting story about a mother struggling with a transgender child. The audience was almost brought to tears by her words; not a screenwriter’s words, or a director’s words—her own words.
San Francisco Litquake’s Jane Ganahl grilled her with questions on topics ranging from her Brat Pack days to her book reviews to her gorgeous Greek husband sitting in the audience. But one answer really stuck with me:
“I’ve been writing for decades. It was singing, writing, and acting in that order, and once acting took over, I kept writing and never thought that it would be possible to ever be taken seriously as a fiction writer. That’s what kept me from [fiction writing & publishing] for so long. But in the end I feel like the writing speaks for itself.”
Molly Ringwald worries that people will not take her seriously as a writer.
It’s a worry that crosses my mind every time I tell someone that I am a fiction writer. I always expect the next question to be: well, what have you published? Or what kind of person spends their days transcribing the thoughts of imaginary people? Or did you know that a writing career doesn’t come with stock options?
I, uh, you know, it’s just…
Everyone faces the doubt of announcing themselves as “real” writers. Sometimes we hide our “writer” status for fear of ridicule or dismissal. Do you love to write? Yes. Do you put pen to paper in a magic string of ink straight from your heart? Yes. Then, stash the self-doubt, apply a little pink lipstick (this step is optional), and dazzle the world with your talent.
Whether your day job is as a doctor, actress, lawyer, or waitress, tell the world, “Yes, I am a fiction writer.” And then take that one step further, “Yes, I am writing a novel in one month. Seriously.”
Have you ever been afraid that the world might not take you seriously as a writer? Have you ever let it stop you from writing? I’d love to hear your stories!
Photo by Flickr user Chris Mc Robert