My TBR pile is huge! And it grows bigger and bigger. So I was so excited to finally read Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes. If you don't know who Shonda Rhimes is then you don't watch TV on Thursday nights. Or maybe at all. She's the creator of the long-standing Grey's Anatomy, Grey's spinoff--Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. She is Thursday Night Primetime.
I'm not gonna lie, I was pissed after she killed off one of the dreamiest characters of all time. But it didn't stop me from watching the show because . . . she's a boss. A genius boss. I'll never forget the last episode of season ten on Grey's when we find out who Maggie Pierce really is. I screamed. I cried. My heart filled with appreciation. Thank you, writers of this show! Thank you!!
It was in that moment that I realized just how impactful fiction can be. Sometimes I forget and think what I do as a writer doesn't matter. But if it didn't, novels, TV dramas, and science fiction movies wouldn't make millions of dollars.
Anyway, back to Year of Yes. In this fun narrative, Shonda realizes that she "never says yes to anything." So she vows to agree to everything that scares her and steps waaaaaay out of her comfort zone. Shonda shows a side of her that you wouldn't expect from a super successful woman in entertainment. It turns out that we have a lot more in common besides being writers. We even have similar ideas. Back in 1998 when I was 13 years old, I wrote my first legit short story called Raining in Hollywood, about three best friends from Iowa who graduate high school and immediately drive across the country to realize their dreams of stardom in Los Angeles. When I saw Crossroads later in 2003 I was like WHAT? Britney Spears took my idea and Shonda Rhimes wrote it! But obviously, that would be impossible. We must've all been hanging out in the same part of the collective consciousness around the same time. It happens. Needless to say, I LOVED the movie.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when she talks about how she deflect a compliment about her success by saying, "I'm just so lucky." And then makes the distinction that by saying she's lucky it implies that she didn't earn it. She says, "I'm not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass." That you are, Shonda!
Truth be told, I never really noticed how diverse her casts are. And if I did, I didn't think that much about it. The casts of characters in my books are diverse too and I was just thinking what I would say if someone asked me about it. I wouldn't know what to say. Then that night I read about Shonda being asked this exact question. Her answer was that diversity isn't special or rare. It's normal. She said she's normalizing television. "The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn't look like them and love like them. Because perhaps they will learn from them." And I like that answer.
I just loved this book. It was inspiring and somehow, I adore Shonda even more. So here's to all the writers and the badasses who are smart and talented and take advantage of opportunities, and work really, really hard. You go!