I shared my picture book, The Princes of Serendip, with students at Buchanan Elementary in Livonia, MI last week. I loved sharing the messages of pride in hard work, kindness, gratitude, and hunting down happy accidents with students. You could hear a pin drop in the gym as I read the story, which was remarkable for 500 students on the day before spring break. They loved Molly Blaisdell‘s beautiful and whimsical illustrations, learning about the writing process, and the idea that we can make our dreams come true if we work hard.
At the end of the presentation, we had some time for students to ask questions. They asked great questions and there was one that stuck with me. One of the students asked why I write books. That question of “why” always makes me pause.
Writing is cathartic, it is incredible reflection, it is excellent accountability, and I love the way words can come together on paper (or on a screen) to tell a story that could help someone on their journey. When I blog, it is often for me–to synthesize my thoughts and to process through ideas. Blogging helps me learn and grow, because as John Dewey said,
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Sometimes my blogs help others learn and grow too, and I love connecting with people through our shared desire for continuous improvement.
But, as my friend George Couros reminded me when I was writing The Path to Serendipity, we don’t write books for ourselves. We write them for other people. So, back to that question from that sweet student last week. Why do I write books?
First, I write books because I love people. I love helping people think in different ways, in ways that will help them live happier and more fulfilled lives. The ideas I wrote about in my first book, The Path to Serendipity, are lessons and stories that I think about everyday as I am navigating daily challenges and joys.
I wanted to bring the idea of serendipity to children, so I rewrote the sixteenth century Persian tale that explains the origin of the word serendipity and, thanks to Dave and Shelley Burgess, that book came to life with Molly’s illustrations. I love sharing The Princes of Serendip with students, hoping to leave them knowing that they can make their dreams come true if they work hard and understanding that pride in our work, sharing kindness, deep gratitude, and looking for happy accidents makes our lives better.
My next book, Through the Lens of Serendipity, will be released on the one-year anniversary of The Path to Serendipity. I absolutely love this book and I think Jethro Jones‘ endorsement sums up the book so well (thank you my friend!):
“Allyson Apsey has a gift for storytelling. Through her stories, you learn about yourself and others in ways that you weren’t expecting. Her stories are relatable in that you feel yourself in them even if you aren’t a character. You feel compassion for the people Allyson has compassion for. You feel frustration for the tension in their lives. While trauma may be lurking behind each story, the real focus of this book is the people who are who they are because of the trauma they have experienced. And guess what? Whether we have experienced trauma or not, focusing on people first and foremost is the best thing we can do in any situation. Allyson brings that point home again and again throughout the book and inspires you to do the same.”
I write books because I love people. I want to help other people discover the best in themselves, and empower them to help others discover the same. Life is really hard and we have a responsibility to NOT make it harder on each other. We can only do that if we are living fulfilled lives, and living fulfilled lives takes hard work and selflessness. But, that is okay because we are capable of so much more than we ever thought we were.
I write books because I believe in people. Each person is doing the very best they can with the information they have. When we learn new ways of thinking, we can grow and become better–that is why I read books constantly. I believe that we can create a world where we focus on empowering and uplifting each other rather than competing with each other from a position of fear. I believe in the goodness of people.
My why for writing is the same as my why for being a principal. I love people and I know that we can do so much more for each other than we currently do. Educating our children to believe in the goodness of people is a gift to our future, but first we have to believe it ourselves. My books are my attempt to help us believe in each other, and getting the opportunity to share the message in person to students or staff is a huge bonus.
What is your why? How are you sharing it so you can be the change the world needs? Your story is worthy of being shared–in daily conversations, on social media, or even in a book of your own. What are you waiting for? No better time than the present!