When a Dream Comes True

We feel cold but we don't mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn't feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It's worth the cold for that." -- Philip Pullman, THE GOLDEN COMPASS
I've been obsessed with the Aurora Borealis for as long as I can remember. Those dancing lights in the night sky seemed magical to me, something larger than myself. I saw pictures of them and promised to seem them for myself...someday. Years went by, the Aurora Borealis living in my imagination, triggering an inexplicable yearning so deep I couldn't talk about without crying. So I didn't talk about it. Except to my partner Anne, and we promised we'd one day see them together.

In September Anne read somewhere that the brightness and visibility of the Aurora Borealis was waning, as part of an ongoing cycle, having been at peak in 2013 and not due to peak again until 2024. That day I made us reservations to go to Iceland for our anniversary, which falls in the middle of December, and planned a four-day getaway, making reservations for three different Northern Lights tours for all three nights we'd be there. 

The weather and conditions didn't align the first two nights and we didn't see anything but stars or clouds in the night sky. Then on the third night--the night before we were to travel home--we were loaded into two 4x4 jeeps and trundled out to the southwestern-most tip of the island, the snow- and ice-covered beach of Reykjanes Peninsula. Our enthusiastic guide consulted satellite images of clouds, set up a powerful telescope for stargazing between the clouds, set up his camera and tripod, and asked us to be patient. As the wind howled and sleet-filled clouds spiraled over us, the black-dark was filled with stories of trolls and hidden people, of Vikings and Yule Lads, of the extinct Great Auk of Iceland--and we waited. 

This is what the beach looks like during the day!
Clouds parted, giving us hope, then clouds rolled in bringing more wind, more sleet. We'd started out at 9:00PM and as we neared Midnight we had just enough night vision to explore a bit of the shadowy, rocky beach, not sure where the shore ended and the ocean began. We could just make out huge rock formations, could hear but not see the crashing waves. Would we keep waiting? the guide asked. Yes, we would. Because it was magical. Because we knew we had to. Because we had hot chocolate and kleiner (Icelandic donuts) to keep us warm.

Our guide explained that on the right settings, including a 30-second shutter speed, the camera will catche colors and movements behind the clouds--something our naked eye can't see --and shortly after 1:00AM, the camera started to catch a bit of color. Consulting his satellite images once more, our guide trundled us back into the jeeps. We left the beach, driving slowly, with the guides using their handhelds the whole time. Ours were the only vehicles on that road. Suddenly the lead jeep stopped. "Get out! Get out!" And this is what we saw:

The Aurora Borealis danced for us. We didn't move from that spot for two hours. I cried. I laughed. We were in awe. We toasted with a glass of Brennivin, or Black Death, growling "Skal" the way the Vikings surely would have done.

Someday had come. December 16, 2017. The fourteenth anniversary of the exact day my dad died. I think he was with us that night. And there we were, among the stars, seeing the Aurora Borealis. A dream come true. It made me remember anything is possible if you're patient, if you're hopeful, if you're willing to be disappointed along the way, if you're open to the possibilities. This, I believe, is as true when it comes to our goals for our writing and our art as it is for our goals for our own lives.

We've created an album of a few of our many Iceland photos here.

 (c) emma d dryden, drydenks LLC



Well, we've made our BIG move from New York City to Hope Street in Bristol, Rhode Island, and I've been learning what it takes to adjust.

The dictionary defines "adjustment" as "the small alterations or movements made to achieve a desired fit, appearance, or result." In this new apartment, new town, new state I find myself in a process of figuring out what my desired fit, appearance, or result are. It's been neither terribly easy or terribly hard--it's been a process, though, to which I've had to stay alert and open. Every day I need to remind myself that adjustment is a process that I can control. Whatever fit I want, I can adjust myself to get there. 

For writers and artists, isn't the process of revision the very same thing? The figuring out of what alterations and movements need to be made to achieve a desired fit, appearance, or result. Revision can be tricky, messy, confusing, even scary--and it can be exhilarating and revealing. So too when we are forced to adjust to a new situation in which we find ourselves within our lives or our art. 

Taking a larger view, this is definitely a period of upheaval and change throughout our society--requiring constant adjustment to try to make sense of things that I feel are senseless. Sometime, adjustment doesn't achieve a desired fit, but we do the best we can. As I take this journey, I embrace what sailors know instinctively--you can't direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails, and keep beating towards your destination.


Keep Going!

If there's one directive I share with every client with whom I work, it's to keep going. 

I'm a firm believer in keeping going with one's writing, with one's vision, with one's goals, and with one's stories, no matter how difficult, how long, or how challenging the journey may be. 

And so, in that spirit, I share this image so we may remind one another and ourselves that the journey is not only worth it, but the journey is as important as the end result. And as we journey, remember to stay open to the possibilities and opportunities that may show up tomorrow which we couldn't have even imagined yesterday.

Keep going, my friends. Keep going.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks llc


Hope - Next Exit

"It must take courage to fly, 
to trust the wind to hold you 
as it lifts you away 
from all you've ever known. 
To know inside that you're heading 
where you're meant to go--
even if you've never been there before." 
-- from HALF A CHANCE by Cynthia Lord

So, the time has come to tell my secret. 

Well, I'm not really telling a secret. But I am revealing something I've not talked about on social media or in public. Some things just don't need to be processed socially or publicly. But now's the time. Long story short, I've spent much of the last year preparing myself, my family, and my home for a temporary relocation out of New York City to Rhode Island--and my moving date is April 14! 

We're making this move to allow my partner to follow a dream that will open up pathways towards a new career--a dream that's been in the making for over ten years! This had required us to renovate and empty out our New York City apartment where we both live and work so it can be sublet while we're away. And this has meant not just sorting through, cleaning out, rearranging, and renewing our apartment; it's meant sorting through, cleaning out, rearranging, and renewing  my childhood home. Which has honestly felt like a sorting through, cleaning out, rearranging, and renewing of my childhood. This process has been by turns filled with elation and sorrow, by turns overwhelming and cathartic. Authors with whom I work know I always encourage an appreciation for, and embracing of, the journey as much as the destination and a trusting of the process. And now it's my turn.  It's my time to experience the experience of this journey and to trust in the process, that's for sure.

A year ago, I didn't understand what I do now--that this process has been necessary and a long time in coming. I've owed my apartment a thorough cleaning, sorting, and renewing for years (closets, drawers, files, shelves, and boxes don't ever seem to sort themselves, do they?). What I appreciate now, today, on the verge of this move, is that I've owed myself just as thorough a cleaning, sorting, and renewing. What a gift this has been and continues to be. Not easy by any means--and believe me, I've had my breakdown moments along the way with one tantrum (okay, maybe two) and one half-hour lying-in-the-fetal-position incident (okay, maybe two).

I can't believe the movers will be here in three weeks. My partner's already up in Rhode Island because the program she's taking started March 1. I am in the New York apartment balancing move prep and drydenbks work; and I'm feeling like I'm on top of it now. Finally. Ready. Ready to go on this new adventure. Ready to take this chance. Ready to fly. Knowing inside that I'm heading where I'm meant to go--even if I've never been there before. And I'm hopeful.  

And you know what's great? The apartment in which we'll be living and in which drydenbks will carry on business is located in our new state in our new town on...Hope Street

Hope - next exit.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks LLC


Scholastic, Worms, and What If?

I couldn't be more thrilled that Judy Newman and her team at Scholastic Book Clubs are focusing their Scholastic Reads blog and Dollar Deal this week on WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR? that I co-wrote with Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Ken Min.

This book is inspiring young entrepreneurs in the classroom, in Girl Scout troops, in summer camps, and more! I'm so proud!

Thank you to all the teachers, counselors, educators, librarians, and readers who are embracing this book and asking the most important question, What if?

Take a look through the Scholastic Reads newsletter for five exclusive blog posts inspired by WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?

I'm in a video!

During the Scholastic interview, I was asked if I'd ever invented anything when I was a child. I'd forgotten all about this, but the memory of starting a worm farm suddenly came back to me! I talked about this with Scholastic, but the story had to be edited out for the sake of space. Here's the story: Growing up an only child, I loved playing by using my imagination. 

After a big rainfall one summer in Connecticut, when I was about eight, 
I began to collect worms and decided to start a worm farm. I put together trays of soil and settled the worms into their new home. I fancied I would be able to "breed" worms and sell them to people who wanted them. Needless to say, this whole enterprise didn't last very long, the worms weren't game, and I moved on to other imaginings and activities. But that worm farm? I remember it with such happiness! With just the right amount of ewww factor!

So, how many of you have ever invented something? Tell us about it in the comments!