CLARKS SUMMIT — T’Shaiya Gibbons’ inclusion in a series of best-selling anthologies started with a whim and a Facebook message.
Work by Gibbons has appeared in two books of the “I Just Want to Pee Alone” series, which is compiled and edited by author Jen Mann. In what Gibbons described as an unexpectedly bold move, she messaged the author on the social media platform a few years ago and asked if she could submit a piece for the upcoming volume. Mann replied she could, and Gibbons’ writing ended up in the fourth book of the series, “I Just Want to Be Perfect.”
“There are very brief moments when I’m brazen, and when I leap, I leap hard,” Gibbons said. “I will stand in my own way, but every now and again I just do it, and this happened.”
Gibbons, 31, of Newton Township, was also recently included in the sixth installment of the series, dubbed “You Do You,” which was published in September. She will read her contribution to the book, a piece called “Unapologetically Me,” and discuss writing and her creative process at the Abington Community Library on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. The event includes a book signing and is open to teens in grades 9-12 and adults. Those who wish to attend are asked to preregister with staff at the library, 1200 W. Grove St., said Renee Roberts, young adult services and project manager at the library.
Writing has always played a large role in Gibbons’ life. She can trace her storytelling roots to kindergarten at Newton Ransom Elementary School. A teacher provided a simple prompt: A horse gets out. What happens next?
One student wrote the farmer who owns the horse finds it and brings it home, another that the horse found its own way back, Gibbons recalled. She penned a different ending: The wayward horse, free to find itself, turned into a unicorn.
She continued writing through her teen years, a process that helped her find herself as a person, she said. She didn’t usually share her stories with others. An exception was a 150-page mystery she wrote for her senior project at Abington Heights High School. The story told the tale of sisters who had to crack the case of who stole a high school prom queen’s tiara. Spoiler alert: The disc jockey at the prom dance took it.
Gibbons later graduated from Kutztown University and wrote professionally as a reporter with The Abington Journal.
She continued to write on her own time, even after she left the reporting job after getting married and having a son. She started a blog called “Vintage Dreams with a Modern Twist.” She still writes every night without fail. Through the years, writing has helped her manage anxiety and proven cathartic, she said.
“Sometimes you get so tangled up in your head about what can go wrong or who will get mad about what that you hold yourself back. If I can’t get myself untangled, I would never accomplish anything in life,” Gibbons said. “So writing, for me, is the only way to untangle all of that.”
Then came the fateful Facebook message.
Gibbons admires Mann and the book series because it showcases stories written by girls and women ranging in age from middle school to older women and covers topics ranging from motherhood to relationships. Mann gave Gibbons about two days to craft something to submit for inclusion on the upcoming book. Gibbons wrote a piece about her own expectations about being a wife and mother.
She still remembers getting the acceptance email. It was short and to the point. Initially, Gibbons could only stare at it.
“It just said, simply, ‘You’re in,’” Gibbons recalled. “It still blows me away that anybody reads my words. It’s just so odd.”
Since being published in Mann’s compilations, she’s heard from readers who said the work resonated with them and they connected with it. That’s been very rewarding, Gibbons said.
She has one piece of advice for aspiring writers.
“Keep writing, even if it’s only for yourself,” Gibbons said.
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