Denise Brennan-Nelson

What was your first experience with the power of language?

My dad reading poetry to me and my 7 siblings. I will forever remember his voice – lyrical and fervent as he read a variety of poems and ballads to us. One of my favorites was a poem called Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey. Its message, as well as my dad’s love of poetry, was powerful.

The power of language was also on full display at the dinner table where we would have quote wars.

What is your dream for Willow or your writing life more broadly?

Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, “. . . if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse.”

That’s my dream. To share my thoughts and ideas with true and clear words so that they shine like a lighthouse for others. I hope to light the way for those who have a dream or a story to tell and just need a little direction.

What is the greatest challenge facing aspiring writers and do you have any advice on how to get past it?

Choosing one “greatest” challenge is difficult. Fear of failure, finding the time to write, distractions – all of these and more come to mind. But I think the greatest challenge is letting go.

I have met a lot of people who have a great desire to write (or dream to be a writer) but they stand in their own way. Fear of putting their work out there where it will be judged and critiqued and possibly even rejected, immobilizes them.

If you aspire to be a writer and you have written something wonderful, let go of self-doubt and fear of rejection or failure. Your writing – your dream – doesn’t have a chance if you don’t.

“Strong girls_________________.” (How would you fill in that blank?)

Strong girls, like Willow, encourage self-expression and positive thinking.
Strong girls must be encouraged to embrace and use their strengths.
Strong girls become strong women.
Strong girls need role models.