The Shut Up & Write doll was painted by my friend, Mary Lou Bell. It reminds me of times she and other friends stood in doorways saying, "This way to the Judy Bridges workshop."
The tiny gorilla in the foreground is a mini version of my writing buddy, Alfred, who lets me write nonsense when I want to.
The red "book" in front of me is an early draft of my Shut Up & Write! manuscript.
I'm smiling. This is normal for me. I still giggle, and I sometimes growl. But I am never, ever, passive. Not even when I try to be.
Another thing I like about the photo is that there are no diplomas, no awards, no fancy icons on the wall. This is important, because when I'm teaching, it's not about me. It's about helping other people say what they want to say, write what they want to write. I'm a power in the room, and a helluva good leader, but where I come from doesn't matter nearly as much as where my students are going.
If forced, I will admit to having a bachelor's in writing (fiction and nonfiction), a master's in adult education, and over a decade of professional writing experience. In 1993, I founded a writing center called Redbird Studio, where I taught more than six thousand kids and adults to write better than they did before they met me. Redbird was named "Best of" area writing centers by Milwaukee Magazine. I was honored as a "Woman Who Put Her Stamp on Milwaukee." I have a huge white binder filled with awards and articles about the studio.
That's all very nice, but when I look at this photo, I hear the voices of the writers reading their work. I hear applause, and advice, and encouragement.
That's what I like about this picture.