Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning web-series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl re-released her New York Times Bestselling book of the same name in paperback on July 12, 2016 with a twist: New Format; Just As Awkward.

Yesterday evening, an assortment of Issa’s enthusiasts descended upon the Barnes & Noble at The Grove for a cozy discussion and book signing. The forum was open and chill, and she immediately took questions from the group, which made it feel less like a panel and more like a conversation.

Issa began by reminiscing about her introduction to the TV industry via Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland at ABC, and mused about executives at ABC being patient and accommodating with her “newness” as she pitched her I Hate LA Dudes project. Through that experience, she eventually learned that her content would be better suited on cable rather than network TV, and acknowledged this pivotal step in her digital-screen to small-screen journey.

The highlight of the discussion was Issa’s encouragement for young and/or aspiring writers. She emphasized, “The best way to learn is by doing,” and admitted that taking that first step is the most difficult.  Her “secret” to success; however, was bypassing all excuses.  She regaled the room with her own example on what truly pushed her to create the Awkward Black Girl brand: A Clutch magazine feature on the need for the “Black Liz Lemon.” At that moment, she had an epiphany: “Oh, I’m running out of time!” So, she scrambled to make a promo to preface the web-series and cemented a sturdy and eager fan-base. And even still, procrastination’s dark shadow loomed in the background.

Despite the procrastination, one especially eager fan that jolted her into high gear. After seeing the promo, the fan reached out to her frequently, expressing her excitement and asking questions about the release date. Feeling the pressure, Issa gave her a random date: February 3rd. It was more than just a release date; it was an accountability date. That moment was beyond significant, as it was her official motivation to create.

Issa also ruminated on the highs and lows of a creative, admitting that she “live[s] for the lows” as it gives her drive, while the highs can easily make her complacent. She celebrated the diversity of her web-series crew, and gushed about HBO being writer-friendly, authentic, and raw, confirming that her upcoming TV series, Insecure, will be right at home.

As the modest crowd, shuffled to prepare for her John Hancock on their freshly-purchased and sunny-colored books, she closed with one final funny quip for her book’s future readers, “If they like it, great; if not, then I hate them.”

If you are interested in the book, please click HERE to order.