Creative Contributors: Meg Conley
In this blog series, we highlight the creative minds and collaborators behind each Bravery issue. This week we are featuring Meg Conley, the writer who created Yusra Mardini’s feature biography in issue 11 of Bravery. You can check out her site here.
A little about Meg:
Meg Conley is a writing woman. She is married to a boy she’s known since she was twelve. His name is Riley. They have three daughters: Margaret Zuzu, Viola Honey and Brontë Fig. One time Meg was quoted in The Atlantic and up until being featured in Bravery Magazine, that was her proudest professional day. Meg’s writing has also been featured in Human Parts, Gen Mag, and Huffington Post.
What got you interested in writing? How did you get started?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I read my first book all by myself in the first grade. The book was an early reader book about Pompeii. It had pictures on every page. I was used to looking at pictures on my own, but reading words on my own changed everything. By the time I was done with the book, I’d learned about people who lived thousands of years ago and the volcano that covered them in ash. It struck me, even as a six year old, that there was something miraculous about the fact that words - little symbols in a row - could keep the stories of those dead people alive! I wanted to use words to keep things alive.
I started writing in the first grade. Little stories and essays in my spare time on spare paper. None of them were very good. That’s true of most writing. Even now. But the not very good stuff always gets me closer to the good stuff. I still scribble in my spare time on spare paper.
What is your favorite genre to write?
I love writing everything! I love writing recipes, copy for non-profits, to-do lists (that never get done), poetry and essays. I love argumentative and narrative essays; most of my work falls in those two categories. I’ve recently started to write fiction. Fiction is quickly becoming one of my favorite (and most challenging) ways to write.
What is one of your most favorite things you’ve written?
A few years ago, I wrote an essay about the importance of keeping families together at the border. I am proud of that piece but hate that it had to be written and I hate that it still applies today.
What do you love most about being a writer?
I used to think good writing was a way to find good answers. But really, good writing always leads me to my next good question. I love finding questions and so I love writing.
What's something hard about being a writer?
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been emptied out of ideas. It’s difficult to create when you feel empty. Those hollow days are hard. I have to remind myself that I can fill myself back up. There are lots of ways to get rid of the emptiness - reading in a quiet place or going to a museum often does the trick. I’ve also found that I feel the most empty when I am not spending enough time listening to the voices of others that can teach me. If I feel that way? I know it’s time to put down my pen and find someone who can teach me something.
What is your dream project or collaboration?
Bravery has always been on my collaboration bucket list, so being able to write Yusra’s story was a dream come true. My dream project? So many dream projects! I’ve spent the past few years engaging with research on how universal basic income can help primary caregivers and families who live at or below the poverty line. I would love to use my writing to help make all the amazing research around the subject more accessible.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always wanted to be a writer. Always! When other kids wanted to be astronauts and princesses and professional athletes, I wanted to be a writer.
Talk us through your process for writing the feature biography for the Yusra Mardini issue.
It was an immense honor to write about Yusra. She’s got an amazing presence online and through her writing and it was so helpful and inspiring to spend time with her in both of those spaces. When I wrote her story, I wanted to capture everything she’s been through and everything she’s done. I also wanted readers to understand that she is an incredible woman with so many incredible things still in front of her. It was so important to me that the girls and boys reading Bravery understand that Yusra is still out there making the world a better place right alongside them.
This is part of an ongoing series on our blog called "Creative Contributors." We love working with all different types of creatives and are excited to highlight a variety of work and creative processes. Click here to read other features in this series.