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Getting It Down on Paper

“Had “The Bell Jar” or “Waiting to Exhale” been written today, they might have been slapped with pink covers and deposited onto the “Beach Reading” shelf. So, actually, might the Wizard of Oz: Girl moves to big city, has to wear high–heeled shoes to get anywhere, meets three men — first has no brain, second, no heart, third is gay — and she finally thinks the last man will be the answer to her prayers, but when she meets him, he’s short and impotent.”

A funny thing has happened recently.  I’ve been writing with intent.  I kind of feel as though perhaps I’m ready to “settle down” and really make a go of it with just one special story.  I’ve always written, but I’ve never been particularly faithful to any piece of work.  I write it, I enjoy it while it lasts, and it’s discarded into the deep, dark writing folder that I’ve kept since elementary school.  It’s always been very casual writing, but I think I’m ready for more.  I’m researching manuscript formats, how to contact publishers, what exactly an “agent” does, but most importantly I’ve had the same characters and story in my head for 6 months now, and I’ve somehow made it past the first ten pages and still don’t totally hate the direction it’s taking.  I can see us growing old together.

With that being said, I’m rather afraid to tell people that I’ve started writing something because I’m afraid of that next inevitable question.  “Oh, really?  What’s it about?”  Because, you see, it’s about a girl, on her own, her lovelife, her worklife, her familylife.  It’s certainly not the next great American novel.  And of course they would say, “Oh how lovely!” while thinking, “Dear God, another ‘great beach read’, just what we need.”  I know judgement when I see it, and I don’t think that many people take the authors of chick lit too seriously.

But see, here’s the thing.  I didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family–we’re in fact all quite normal considering how crazy we are.  I didn’t have to deal with substance abuse.  I’ve never been abused physically, emotionally, or sexually–although I did date a major asshole.  I’ve never had to face issues with a serious mental health crisis, or lost someone extremely close to me in a tragic way.  I don’t know about these things, and we always hear “write what you know.”

I know what it’s like to have a completely shit lovelife.  I know what it’s like to be stuck in a career that you don’t enjoy and have dreams for bigger things.  I know what it’s like to have friends whose lives seems so much better and more complete than your own and to long for that secretly while outwardly celebrating their milestones.  I know what it’s like to have to get back out into the dating scene and completely bugger it all up.  I know what it’s like to have to consistently take really crappy situations and make them humorous.  That’s what I know, so that’s what I write.

I don’t imagine to myself that it will be compare to The Grapes of Wrath, or Great Expectations, or my personal favorite, Gone with the Wind, but if just one other person can read it and identify with it.  If a reader can feel as though he or she has really gotten to know my characters then I’ll know that I’ve succeeded with what I want to do.  And of course if it just so happens to make it onto the New York Times Best Sellers list, I guarantee to you that I will never complain about the price of fame!

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