From the hummus tub to the ping pong paddle ❤️
The journey from Squareface To Ping!
My dear friend,
for a long time I’ve been meaning to tell you how I wrote my book PING.
I feel a bit daunted by how humongous of that newsletter that could be!
BUT, I thought I could start by tell you what PING was GOING to be, before it found its actual voice and heart.
As of today, the tiny little book I wrote in my bedroom has visited way more countries than I have. Which makes me feel super grateful and kind of incredulous, to be honest!
I will tell you about how I wrote it, illustrated it and published PING some other day,
but today I want to show you something I find really funny and kind of endearing when I think about the level of expertise I had when writing my first book (which was about zero!)
Not to mention, I was still feeling super duper shy about my English as a second language, so, all my notes were kept super secret.
For my eyes only!
This is my book, as it got published in North America:
BUT before all of this happened,
PING used to look totally different, and it used to have a completely different name.
Before I had settled on the name,
PING was called:
**** drumroll please ****
SQUAREFACE HATES PARTIES!
The idea behind this book, is that there was a little character who had a square face and who hated parties.
This was inspired, undoubtedly by the terrible terrible social anxiety I used to suffer!
But by the time I was writing this, I had been going to therapy for social anxiety for some years.
I had gone from someone who was terrified of parties and hated them with all her heart, to someone who actually LOVED parties with a passion!!!
This took years and years to accomplish. And it also took a lot of mental gymnastics.
I had amassed an arsenal of tools about how I learned how to love parties.
And how I learned to hang out with people, in general (when hanging out with people used to be basically a phobia of mine! Can you believe it???!!)
This book was meant to be a toolkit on how to enjoy parties, taught by a real party animal, named Sarubobo.
While I was rummaging around my old files, I found this little text note!
This is actually the first “draft” of Squareface Hates Parties (The text is super little. But I’m going to copy it and paste it below, so you can read it).
It’s not super refined or anything.
Basically I was just writing down some of the tricks I do myself so I can ignore my usual inner chatter and anxieties when I’m around other humans.
It’s almost as if Squareface is Ani Before Therapy For Social Anxiety.
And Sarubobo is Ani After Social Anxiety, trying to help her out.
Ok, here we go:
SQUAREFACE HATES PARTIES
By Ani Castillo
Squareface hates parties
Althought, he wonders
Why that might be?
He LOVES people
He truly enjoys One-On-Ones.
And he even has a best friend.
Her name is Sarubobo.
Sarubobo ADORES parties.
She’s the heart of them all.
“No worries, she says, just stay home and read a book. You like that!”
“But Sarubobo”, Squareface says, “I really feel like having an adventure”.
“No worries Squareface, if that’s what you truly want, I will help you love parties much better”.
Squareface, do you ever feel like you’re better than other people?
Only slightly. I’m very smart and a deep thinker.
Well, that won’t help. You gotta tell your heart one thing: all people’s feelings, ideas and experiences are precious. Even if they’re completely different from yours.
See that man over there?
Look for something you like in him.
I like his golden rimmed buttons. And that he says please and thank you.
That’s a great job! Don’t you suddenly feel closer to the guy?
Sometimes I even imagine people having some big huge wings. Or a halo on top of their head. Kind of like an angel.
Who knows where the heck we came from? Why not imagine that we’re all these bunch of magical creatures hanging out on this planet.
By focusing on the other person, the pressure to “perform” is suddenly lifted.
Small talk is still talk.
Some people don’t like it because it is superficial, but it totally serves some kind of purpose within humanity. I bet even cavemen had some sort of small talk. (good morning! did you see that mammoth over there, it was big! yeah it was big!)
From small talk, you can extract much more interesting information and then comes the next point:
People enjoy questions.
FIND SOMETHING YOU CAN ADMIRE:
Even the most boring of people have something that they’re doing great at. And you know how many people have probably told them about it? About zero.
Hi! (small talk)
How Are you? (small talk)
Good thank you. (small talk)
Good weather we’re having eh? (small talk)
Yeah, it’s sunny. The plants like it. (small talk, you’ve struck some gold)
Oh you like plants? (question)
Yes, I garden sometimes. (Find something you can admire! Gardeners are awesome!! Gold!)
Oh, I love it when people go in their gardens. They make the world so pretty.
Well, you see... my dad used to garden and...
Use your imagination while listening to someone. Imagine what they’re saying. It’s so easy to get inside the story that way. And it’s so much fun!
Sometimes, if you get nervous while talking with someone, study her face. Look at the colours, at the movements, at the creases, at the hairs. Imagine that you’re painting them. Describe what you see to yourself (‘blue eyes’ ‘purple eyes’, shiny lips, square teeth, freckle one, freckle two)
MOST PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY SHY
In this world we’re expected to be this or that. And to look more like that person and have what the other person have. They will enjoy your conversation as long as you help them be more themselves.
STAY IN THIS MOMENT IN TIME
Words are like baby carrots with hummus. say them, taste them, and just like you’d swallow a piece of baby carrot with hummus, let it go to your belly and forget about it. Don’t keep chewing on the darn thing, don’t regurgitate it.
If you catch yourself going back to what you just said and feeling terrible and regretful about it, bring yourself back to the present. If you find yourself going into the future and thinking about what you’re gonna say, you, my friend, are time traveling.
Fight with yourself to bring your head back to the present, observe, listen, taste, breathe, smell, smack yourself , whatever is necessary but come back to where you are.
PRETEND THAT PEOPLE WANT TO BE YOUR FRIENDS
PRETEND THAT THEY’RE YOUR GOOD FRIENDS ALREADY
While I was sketching around some more ideas and tools for the book in my sketching pad, one day I wrote this little sentence:
Then I thought…
The Pong Belongs To The Other.
THE PONG BELONGS TO THE OTHER!!!!
Which must mean that:
WE CAN ONLY PING!!!!!
I got so incredibly excited about this idea.
It felt SO LIBERATING to realize that all I can do in any given interaction is to take care of MY part of the it.
So I felt such a pull to continue focusing and developing that idea only.
I decided, THIS IS MY BOOK!!
So I started sketching what would become my actual book, PING ❤️
I started sketching and writing everything I could think about Pinging and Ponging.
And about loving and living. And daring and creating. And being brave. And recognizing our good intentions.
And slowly but surely, the whole book started emerging from all those notes and sketches.
This whole idea of Pinging made me feel so much freer to just do whatever my heart told me to do. With all my love and with my best intentions.
And to let go of what happened after that.
I felt so liberated and I got OBSESSED about getting this book published. In case it could liberate others, like it did with me.
I leave you with the first pages of PING:
my dear friend,
we can only Ping,
even if, just like Squareface,
as of today,
we happen to hate parties.
But who knows what will happen
If we just Ping with all our hearts
and let the Pong belong to the other?
With lots of love,
Thanks for reading Ani’s Secret Files ❤️! Subscribe here and join the awesomeness
This is so so pure Ani and I wish I had a book like this when I was a child!
this is so wholesome i feel warm inside ToT
Thnks for it <3