Last night, I journeyed to Barnes & Noble Tribeca in New York City to celebrate the launch of Rowan Blanchard’s first-ever book, “Still Here.” The actress, whom you may know best from “Girl Meets World,” has officially published a journal-style collection of her thoughts, poems, and photographs – with some amazing contributions from other artists that she admires. It’s a big step for the 16-year-old: who now adds “author” to her already impressive title of actress/activist/artist.
At the event, Rowan discussed the creation of this work with her friend, journalist Elaine Welteroth, and a crowd of excited fans. She explained that the pages of this notebook-style book are genuine, direct scans from her personal diary. Can we talk about how daunting that is to put yourself out there like that?!
Rowan told her fans that journaling has always been a sort of therapy for her. Writing down her words, scribbling down her feelings, working through depressions, and crossing out angry statements has been a practice she’s done since she was a little girl – which is why it’s so raw and honest that she compiled years-old diary entries to create a book that chronicles what it’s authentically like to grow up. She’s calling this piece “Still Here,” because no matter what difficulties you are currently going through, there’s always a chance to stand still for a second to remind yourself that you are still in it, still here.
While Rowan worries that words she wrote during her younger years might be completely different when she looks back on them years from now, she’s proud about creating something special at this moment in her teen experience. Plus, we thought we had seen her growing up on our television screens, and in movies – but those are characters, and this is who she authentically is.
As a writer myself, I identify with so much of Rowan’s process: sometimes when I set out to create something, I focus too intently on making it perfect. Saying exactly what I want to say and nothing more or less. Thinking about my “brand.” Typing out the next Pulitzer Prize-winning work in my drafts – only to be disappointed that it doesn’t turn out quite right. But I have found – and Rowan shared that she has now too – that the honest, in-the-moment feelings always come across better than the unreachable “perfect” string of words we’re always looking to compose. As Elaine shared during her discussion, “words from the heart touch the heart.”
What I have always felt is that I can’t write unless I feel something. I write when I’m happy, sad, stressed, excited, crying, or laughing – but if there’s nothing, then there’s nothing, you know? Rowan’s book is a collection of all of those emotions at once: there are passages and words that will motivate you to take on the world.
The room at this event was filled with supportive friends and fans who were happy to witness Rowan’s shining moment live. In addition to Elaine, Rowan’s book contributor Arabelle Sicardi stopped by to read a passage straight from the pages of “Still Here.” Actress Amandla Stenberg shared a congratulatory hug with Rowan, and it was the sweetest show of friendship. Rowan teared up when the entire crowd held up their copies of the book – because it’s now out there in the universe!
In this book, Rowan lets us see a side of her we may have guessed was there all along, but never *really* knew about. There are blank pages at the end of the journal which Rowan wants her readers to fill up with their own random but persistent thoughts. On my train ride home, I started writing my own, and I thought I’d leave you with it: “I thought I was already all grown up, but maybe none of us are ever fully done. But I’m starting to feel like my old self again.”