Joaquin’s Balls

I am stressed as Hell.  I am having moments where my head is spinning, where my breath is coming short, where my stomach hurts, and I get that free fall feeling.

I watched I’m Still Here this weekend, the movie about Joaquin Phoenix’s nervous breakdown.  You know that it’s fake because at the end it says “written by Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck” and also because who lets their brother-in-law snort coke off a prostitute’s boobs, makes a movie about it, and then feels good about themselves?

I love Joaquin Phoenix.  I always have. I loved him back when he was Leaf, carrying around a bag of porn in Parenthood, as much as I loved him as Johnny Cash. He always seemed tragic, and able to access unnatural depths, even before he watched his brother die in the street. Have you ever heard that phone call, where he desperately calls for help as River breathes his last?  I think about it every time I look at him.

I have brothers, too.

What was so impressive about the movie is not the breakdown itself, we all have those to varying degrees, but that he took this very carefully designed identity, brand even, and told it to go fuck itself.

I would never do that.  Not ever. Not many people would.  You work so hard to get there, and then you mess with it like that?  It incensed people, but I’m glad he did it. It was kind of amazing to watch.

He says in the movie that he doesn’t know whether he is really a tortured intense person, or whether people just told him he was that way, and so that’s who he became.  Aren’t we all like that?

People are constantly analyzing me in a way that sounds both shocking and unfamiliar to me, ways that don’t ring true, and yet I suppose if people are perceiving it, it must be on some level.  In the past, before I really understood myself, I was all too ready to accept what people told me about myself, to wear it like a costume and try to perform according to description.

The development of your personality, of what people come to expect of you happens so insidiously. Completely and publicly annihilating it is something not many people do.

I’m wound so tight, and seeing that movie gave me a chance to unravel without actually doing it, and gave me a vicarious catharsis in a moment when I really needed it. It was his Into the Wild experiment, and when he pukes in Central Park post infamous Letterman appearance, you know he’s hoping he didn’t eat the wrong berries.  I have the utmost respect for him, for risking everything like that.  I don’t think it was in service to his ego, as some do.  I figure he was unstable as it was, feeling shackled to something he couldn’t control. I think he made this movie was so that when he spun out, he would be there to watch it happen, instead of trapped somewhere in his head, and would be scripting it as he went.

He has big balls, and I like them.

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Dead people, psychics, and scarves…oh my!

Another friend died this week.  Fortunately he was an old guy, which makes it better.  Still, I loved him, still I am heart heavy.  Death and its accoutrements stir up all kinds of pains and traumas, and questions, too, none of which are the slightest bit original.

But guess what?  Halloween is coming, so I’m indulging a little ghost story today, in spite of it.

When I was pregnant with my now three-year-old son, a horrified technician told me he might have Down Syndrome based on some “soft markers” he showed in my first ultrasound.  Dr. Jersey suggested I have an amnio (big needle to the belly, possible miscarriage…NOT) and one idiot doctor told me I should consider terminating the pregnancy.  I was 20 weeks pregnant. I was a suffering mess, and was feeling very alone.

When a friend shoved her psychic’s number into my pocket after I had burst into tears in her kitchen, it took me about five seconds to pick up the phone and call her.  I didn’t even take off my coat when I got home.  My friend said she had an amazing reputation, and I had never spoken to someone of her caliber. My hands sweat as the phone rang.  Would she tell me I was a terrible person, would she be for real?  Would she know all of my fantasies and tell me I was nuts?  I just didn’t know what to expect.

Patricia answered (I came to find out that was extremely unusual for her), and as I was making the appointment to speak to her two weeks later, she told me unprompted that my baby was fine, that it was a boy, and to relax, that he would be a very intelligent person.

I hadn’t told her I was pregnant.

I burst into tears and hung up, thanking her profusely and then thought, “Well, now what the Hell am I going to talk to her about?”

The conversation I had with the glorious Patricia changed my life for many reasons, but the primary one I didn’t even recognize until months later, after she had passed away from breast cancer.

Toward the end of my reading with her, she told me that my grandmother was coming in.  She said she smelled like baking, and that she was taking tea with some friends, and inviting Patricia to join.

All of what she had said to me up to that point had been so unlikely (all happened, by the way) that I thought, “Okay, maybe.”  But then she said things that narrowed the field a little, things like my grandmother was sorry she’d been hard on me as a child, and things about certain pieces of jewelry.  Finally Patricia, who had the most soothing presence I’ve experienced to date, asked me if I had a red scarf of hers.

I didn’t.

She told me to look out for a it, that it was something she specifically wanted me to have, that it was important.  She had passed away the year before and I had already gotten what I was gettin’, so I put it out of my mind until a few months later when I was speaking to my brother.

I’ve always found that people are so married to their ideas with regard to psychics, that I don’t discuss it much, unless I know I’m talking to someone who is into it.  Still, given that he had been the one to clean out her room, along with my Dad, I decided to mention it to him.

There was a loooooooong pause when I mentioned the scarf.

Turns out he had picked out a red scarf from her closet, along with her wallet and had forgotten to give it to me, had been holding onto it all that time.  We sat in silence for a second, absorbing what that might mean.

Taking tea in heaven with friends?

What?

I always believed in reincarnation.  How does my grandmother’s scarf affect THAT theory? Why do the dead hang around?  Is it just traces of them, or are they really reaching out to speak to us?  The chances of such a coincidence are infinitesimal, so where does that leave me?

And taking it even a step further, what was it that made my brother reach for that particular scarf, that thing that my grandmother wanted me to have?  How many times does it happen that you have a strong sense about something, and it’s actually something else, something we can’t see, pushing us to make a different choice.

Too bad Patricia died before I could tell her all of that, tell her how she terrified and excited me so much, and how she peaked my interest (alright, I was already interested, but she heightened it).  She dangled a great big tangly ball of yarn in front of my face that day, and I’ve been trying to pull in apart and make sense of it ever since.

As I’m writing, I’m thinking of all of the people who are going to state the impossibilities, and all of the reasons why I was taken in, even though I said NOTHING to her and let her do all the talking.

A very close male friend of mine actually said, “Come on, I know you’re not that stupid,” when I tried to mention it. My husband says if it were true it would be “a fucking miracle”, and yet it is.

All I can say is that this is what I believe and experienced, and I’ve never been able to turn back from it.  I’m not a sheep, or an idiot.  I just know what I know.

I hope my Grandmother did, at least for a time, sit on some beautiful hill-top and sip tea.  I would like to believe that.  Sometimes all that we must have to face post-mortem seems pretty daunting. Check out the Tibetan Book of the Dead for a taste of the dogma I’ve absorbed.

Either way the red scarf is hanging on my bedroom mirror, so I  never forget.  Oh, and my son is just fine.

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Mean Girls Weren’t All Born Yesterday

An article that appeared in the New York Times on October 8, (click here for a link to the original article), puts forth research to support the idea that bullying-wise, things are getting worse for girls ages 3-9, and that while you used to expect to see mean girl bullies emerge around fifth grade, parents are now in fear for their children at a much earlier age.  All of this is ostensibly brought on by an increase in violence and mean girl modeling seen on TV, as well as parents who don’t do their jobs.

It aggravated me so much that I have to address it. The idea that mean girls were invented in the year 2000 is insane.  It’s a problem, for sure, but it was an issue when  I was growing up, and long before that, too.

In my case bullying began when I was six and went on pretty consistently until I was eleven.  Whether I was the American girl, the French girl, the Buddhist girl, the Poor girl or just the Weird girl,  I was picked on and ostracized.

And now I have a six, almost seven-year old girl.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s bullied, but she certainly has experienced her fair share of social difficulties. She is fantastic, by the way, but nevertheless she is at a disadvantage in some obvious areas; she is chubby (watching her experience her first few “you’re fat” s has been a true delight), and used to be audibly asthmatic, plus everything makes her cry.  For the record, she was 27 pounds at 9 months, before she even ate food.  This is her shape, and I want her to love it. At any rate, in addition to that, for two years she was on meds that nearly nullified her already challenged impulse control.  She was so amped up that she just ran around in circles. I hated the way she alienated herself by touching people when they asked her to stop and her extreme sensitivity, because it reminded me so much of myself. I wasn’t chubby until high school, but man, at her age I had some issues.

Aside from anything obvious that sets a kid apart from the “norm” and makes them easy prey, sometimes kids are just jerks (yes, mine too).  I lost control on a little girl when she spat on my daughter at the Jersey shore last year. Spat! Her mother did not come forward even though I was shrieking for her, and I finally left, spewing profanity at the playground at large while everyone covered their children’s ears.

Even worse than the times I have actually allowed myself to attack or react, are those when I have watched my daughter excluded in silence.  I try reminding myself that I cannot take on every single incident full throttle, that I don’t have the stamina for it. But it just hurts so much that I fold in on myself entirely.

Last summer, my daughter went through a particularly vicious bout of rejection.  It amazed me how the general psyche took over and deemed her a pariah (not that she wasn’t being exceedingly annoying, not that she wasn’t being unyielding, not that she wasn’t totally bringing it on herself, but ouch).  In spite of having been released from therapy (CURED! Mmmm-hhmmm) I scurried back because I felt like all my skin had been peeled off and that didn’t seem like any way to live.

Dr. Glenn calmly informed me that because of my own history, ages 6-10 would likely be the equivalent of a giant open wound at worst, and a painful stubbed toe at best, and that I needed to learn to separate my experience from hers, and take each incident as its own.

WELL, that’s crazy talk, but I braced myself to try.

Fortunately, my daughter went back to school in September, and got all the love she’d been missing in the summer months, and now she’s good as new.  And she always has her neighbor bestie, who is walking salve for my kid.  I thank the universe for her, regularly.  I’m sure it will swing around again, but for now we’re safe.

She’s not always the victim, and like I said, she brings a lot of it on herself.  She’s a little weirdo just like I was, and I’ve seen her be a wench, too; I know she can be.  Nobody pokes and irritates like my girl, that’s for sure; she’s no innocent.

We all have to watch our kids ping-pong back and forth between being the hurter and the hurtee for their entire childhoods, unless they are one of the lucky few who escape both, and fly under the schoolyard radar.

I don’t see much difference between now and when I was growing up, not even in terms of TV.  Think about it.  I won’t get into it at length, but as an avid TV watcher I was exposed to an awful lot in 1980. If anything, TV is a little bubblegummed up these days.

So how do we handle this problem? By nature kids are constantly manipulating the only real currency they have access to: the social.  And what better way to assert that currency than to gain the submission and/or adulation of their peers? What better way to manage their sense of utter powerlessness?  My stomach hurts right now, thinking about it.

The human condition is what it is, and it is a nasty bitch.  It’s watching that, and re-experiencing it that is the scratchiest biggest horsepill to swallow.  It sucked in the eighties and it sucks now.  The picked on eight year old girl hasn’t figured out that in life, it’s better to be weird, it serves you not to fit in, that none of the greats ever did. You can’t explain to them that in the end, the thick skin they will have, the savvy, will make up for what they have to endure today.

All you can do is pay attention, so when your kid is the jerk (mine pinched her best friend’s cheek to bruising last year…yep) you are ready to take all the action you can.  It’s the parents who sit back and do nothing who infuriate me.  Let’s try, at least, to make good kind people. DO SOMETHING!

Mean girls have always been and will always be, at 7 and at 17, even in middle age, and moms who say different have short-ass memories.

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F#$% the Law of Attraction

Before everyone gets all irritated with my negativity, let me just say this:  I am and always will be a believer that your chances of getting what you want in life are multiplied by thousands if you come at whatever you are doing with a positive attitude.

Thing is, this whole law of attraction thing has gone way too far. First it was think good thoughts and all your dreams will come true, and now I hear rumblings that if you get breast cancer or lose your job, you secretly wanted those things to happen.  If your child dies, you were having negative thoughts right before the accident, thoughts that magically caused an airplane engine to fall out over a cornfield, and ruined your life.

Just stop it.

And here’s another crazy theory: go get a magazine, and cut out a picture of a yacht, or a mansion, or a Lamborghini.  Tape it on your wall.  Now, wait. And wait.

Approaching life with clarity of purpose is a great thing. I have no problem with that.  But please, get up off your ass, save your pennies, work as hard as you can, and maybe, just maybe if you’re at the intersection of serendipity and preparation (I think Oprah says something like this but with different wording) the stars will align and you will get what you want.

I’m working as hard as I can to make myself a writing career, to envision myself a success, to accept that I might get exactly where I want to.  I have several plans:  If I don’t get an agent, and get published, I’ll keep working on my second novel, (which is so creepy, I love it).  I’ll get my MFA. I’ll try to get a job writing. If I have to sometime down the road (please not) I’ll throw my apron back on and take some damn orders in a restaurant. I could visualize all day, and no agent is going to knock at MY door.

Of course I want to be a Stephenie Meyer or a Stephen King.  But I might not ever get there, and I refuse to accept that the universe has somehow failed me or that I was somehow blocking a “flow” if it doesn’t happen that way.  It’s just another sad symptom of our celebrity culture to assume that everyone is entitled to that type of success.  You just have to be brave enough to roll the dice and see what happens.

Entitlement.  Argh.

I know proponents will say I’m twisting it all around, and I would like to reiterate that I believe the basic principles to be true.  If you go around snarling at the world, or hiding under the blankets, you will probably not have a wonderful and happy time.  But being the most positive person in the world doesn’t stop a spouse from cheating, a company from downsizing, or a house from falling on you, if that’s what’s going to happen. And don’t make me site the most obvious Holocaust and 9/11ish examples. Don’t tell me those people were secretly hoping to die. Making us so responsible for everything that happens to us is both arrogant to a degree that I cannot accept, and also adds a layer of stress that I don’t even need a little bit.

When I went into much needed therapy a few years ago, I was suffering from a bad case of hyper vigilance.  I had convinced myself that the world was out to get me, and that if I took my eyes off of it, even for a second, it would all come crashing down around me.  It has taken me a lot of work to get over that.  I can do all the watching I want, and it won’t change a thing, and no amount of positive thinking is going to prevent the next tsunami, or even my next cold, for that matter.

I do my best, as we all should, to be true to myself and others, and part of that is reaching for my dreams, picturing myself living it all.  Being fearless, being compassionate,and finding a way to accept what is, is plenty for me to work on, without taking on every negative thought I have, without blaming myself for all of the suffering I’m surrounded by and that I myself experience.

Of course, I believe that if you roll up your shirtsleeves and make an effort, the clockwork of the universe will crank and adjust to try and support you.These are all of the positive side effects of the law of attraction, and I accept them.

The rest is garbage, and the next time I hear someone tell me that a sick person secretly willed their disease or their accident upon themselves, I can’t promise I will restrain myself.  That’s stupid talk. I’ve just had enough.

I think we should be more worried about fate than the power of our every fleeting thought.  Now fate, I believe in.

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Lines on your face

I have to address this, even though it isn’t specifically about writing, at least not on the surface, because I keep having the same conversation with my friends over and over again. It seems to be the general consensus among the ladies that something strange and a little scary is happening to us: we’re getting old.  We’re sort of youngish, I guess, but also, we feel a little dumb in da club, and this is an awkward transition.

Last year for my birthday three girlfriends, two of my cousins and I went to Tenjune in Manhattan, which was a super trendy club (I say was because it’s probably already out of vogue).  Thanks to a friend, we got on the list, so we didn’t have to stand in the line like cattle as our clothes and asses were assessed.  It was fashion week, and everyone was just too fabulous.  I, of course, was in jeans, and having one of those moments where I felt like I just couldn’t get it together.  All of us had decided, in a misguided attempt to cram as much into the day as possible, to get facials mere hours before, so add to our aging skin an epidermal assault and you get the idea.

Still, I was fine with not being one of the overly decked. “Enough ladies,” my cousin Alex (giving me a squeeze below) said to a couple of absurdly accessorized girls waiting in line to get in.  And really, I love New York, and I love clothes, but sometimes, it really is enough.

Once in, we had a great time.  We danced and got rubbed on by a slew of Chuck Bass look-alikes, visible in the background of the above picture, (apparently uberpreppie was in and my type-potentially a criminal, but probably just a musician-was out), thereby proving that we were, at worst, of the dreaded cougar variety.

Even though I was having fun, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being old, too old for that place, anyway.  The final straw came at 2 am, when a 22-year-old overpriviledged prat (I know this because it cost 1000 to get a table, which he was lording over like a pasha) started shoving girls’ heads together trying to get them to make out with each other, which they did.  He also tried to give me a drink, nodding and gyrating all the while, which my cousin Elena shoved away, assuming it was dosed with something.  Imagine being roofied for the first time at my age.

It wasn’t so much what he was doing that bothered me, but the fact that I wanted to grab him by his ear and give him a mommy lecture about respecting women.  It hit me hard that night that something had changed.  I was finally a grown-up.  I had crossed over into a new  demographic.

You can say it’s about time.  I’ll give you that.  I already said I’m a late bloomer. I really would have enjoyed finding another degenerate boy and shoving their faces together, but I thought that might be frowned upon, so I finished up the night dancing my ass off, the knowledge that I had vaulted over the threshold into adulthood snug in my pocket.

Those girls in the club might have been 21.  Maybe (click here to see an article I found about how Tenjune is currently under investigation for underage drinking). The poor babies were all vying to have pictures taken, grinding against each other and making duck face at the camera.  Their pictures would be tweeted and facebooked to the world before they even had a chance to recover from puking all night.  Thank God there were no social networks when I was a teenager.  Just, thank God, okay?

Maybe that’s why I love writing for teenagers so much. There’s such a specific thing going on, and so many people get stuck there.  When you’re young you’re so stupid, and smart in ways grown ups forget how to be, and you feel weird all the time. There are literally a never-ending supply of emotional and social quandaries to explore. When you add to that, if you are of the self-aware sort, that you are also discovering that grown ups don’t really know what the fuck they’re doing, you end up with what is for me a very exciting moment in life to explore.

In my case, I was pudgy, exhausted, crazy, horny, and let’s not forget the growing pains and general itchiness.  Not a good combination. I also felt like someone was always about to pull the chair out from under me, which sometimes they were, yet somehow I still had it more together than just about every adult in charge of my life.

I hated being a teenager, and I have the utmost compassion for them, even though they did write “suck my balls” on my daughter’s elementary school slide. They’re assholes, but their irreverence makes me smile.

So I won’t be going back to Tenjune (the Alley in a less ageist Taos will do fine, plus the music is better), and the lines on my face aren’t going anywhere, either.  I’m okay with that.  I like a man with lines on his face, too, more specifically my husband who is downright jewylicious, and just hilarious, threatening and affectionate enough to keep my totally engaged.  And even though he’s a business man now, he once had one of his hardcore songs recorded, which qualifies him as a musician, too.

I digress. The point is that I love writing for teenagers, but I wouldn’t want to be one.  I’m all woman and I accept it, wrinkles and all.  Sigh. I think instead of acting like a teenager, I’ll just write for them.

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The Adoration of S.E. Hinton

 

S.E. Hinton

 

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in 1950 (Wikipedia says 1948, but also says a bunch of untrue things about my Grandfather, so I’m inclined to believe my other resource.  Apologies if I’m wrong) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began work on The Outsiders in 1965, which means she was 15 years old when she wrote the book that basically re-invented the genre I am now trying to break into.  She wasn’t writing for kids, or for adults, but that foggy in between place where most are regularly catapulted between obnoxious grandiosity and incomparable unbearable tinyness.

I remember exactly where I was when I read The Outsiders for the first time. At the age of eleven, I had my first “boyfriend”. My hair was so short that people kept referring to us as “the boys”, which always brought tears to my eyes, and my stomach hurt whenever he tried to hold my hand. But really, I didn’t even have boobies yet. And even though he made me so happy I was close to vomiting every time he came near me, the thought of a tongue in my mouth was still enough to make me dissolve into laughter and roll around on the floor at its absurdity. As a hot, English, much sought after thirteen year old, he was just way too advanced for me.

Anyway, we were kind of stuck together since our parents were busy chanting on a nearby hill for three weeks. We were left to our own devices all day with not much to do except roam and get into trouble. Robin, that was his name, was getting cranky about chasing me around, and I was feeling skittish, so one day I found myself a tree, away from everyone else. I grabbed a book, that happened to be The Outsiders, out of the pile my mom had provided, bracing myself for the unknown.

I opened the first page, and I kid you not, did not reemerge until I had read every damn word. Bawling, thirsty and starving, I made my way back to the retreat. I was so exhausted that I passed out immediately after dinner.

That’s how Ponyboy, and Johnny, and Dally (always most especially Dally) became permanent members of my psyche. I couldn’t tell you anything about the writing because I don’t even feel like I read it. Really, I saw it, and felt it. And thus my obsession with the bad boy was born. Damn.

I knew that the book was written by a teenager, it said so on the front, but when my mother, who was an English teacher at the time, saw me clutching it and offhandedly announced that S.E. Hinton was a girl, my whole universe rearranged itself.  I was from the land of Little Women, of A Little Princess, and had reached forward to dabble in the Brontes, but this was a whole different thing.

How could a girl just a few years older than me have thought of such a cool story, and with all those boys? How did she sit down and get all of that on paper? It made me feel all the pressure that a brilliant mind has always made feel, except this time the writing was so salty, so gritty, so yummy in every way that my head wanted to explode with possibility.

I went on to read Rumble Fish and Tex, which were less of a shock to my system but are two more of my favorites, not to mention That Was Then, This is Now.

I did a little research for this, and came to find that she wrote a book for grown ups, called Hawkes Harbor a few years ago. I’m definitely reading that as soon as I can get my hands on it.

She’s a recluse, so she’s hard to pin down personality wise, but I know that she’s been married since 1970 and that her son worked on the Ice Age movies. She’s my parents’ age now, of course, but I got a picture in my head when I was eleven, one that has stuck with me all these years. Without internet to help me, and without pictures (publishers didn’t want anyone to know she was a girl, so they never included photos), I was left to my own devices.

In my head she was in a jean jacket with a kind of Christy McNichol scrappiness. She smoked, and cursed and could hang with the boys, but she was the smartest and the best. She was Ponyboy, but a girl.  I don’t know if any of that is true, but when I finally found a young picture of her, it didn’t seem so far off.

The only young picture of S.E. Hinton I could find

She is a pioneer, and she changed the way I thought about…everything.

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Rejected!

I got my first rejection from my first real live agent last week. It was kind of fun in a morbid way. I mean, on the one hand it was a rejection, which sucks, but on the other hand, it means that I actually had something (in this case my young adult novel “Lost Angels”) for him to reject; this in and of itself is a pretty thrilling thing.

The fact that I didn’t effortlessly slip out of the birthing canal and swoop into a world of success and acceptance is no shocker. You’re talking about a woman who spent 25 hours in labor and pushed out a lovely but deeply squished baby with the help of some kind of newfangled version of a toilet plunger and two doctors, while both best friend and husband each clamped desperately down on one of two spongy bloated legs.

The very notion that things should come easy and smooth is so foreign to me that it’s just about laughable. Let’s just call my labor a metaphor for my whole life and save ourselves some time.

If you take the laws of attraction into consideration, my attitude and expectations are probably not a help.  Then again, the laws of attraction are nice, and we can all agree that being positive goes a long way, but honestly, I think that theory is horse shit. I reserve the right to blog in-depth about that later, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

Again, probably not helping myself but there you go.

Nevertheless, the rejection was appealing to me for a couple of reasons:

One, I can get with a little struggle. I come from an entitled family, and it doesn’t seem to serve anyone, really.  I always learn from my wrestling matches with the universe, and as of this moment, I still really have no idea what the hell is going on in the world of writing, so it only seems right to have to pay my dues.

And two, it was kind of a great rejection. I hope they’re all so nice. I was lucky enough to have Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency read my novel, thanks to my mentor, Sharon Darrow, who did NOT dump me when I stopped paying her, as most would have. I know what a privilege a full read is, considering my greenness. And, although I hear rumors that he is an unforgiving and brutally honest hard ass, Mr. Goldblatt was pretty complimentary. Provided his rep is not all bark, I should be as happy as I am.

He did give me pause, though. He said that although he thinks I’m talented and he likes my book, my overall tone was too adult, and there was too much sex and violence to place in the YA market.

Oh, no.

I wrote this book for teenagers from day one. Maybe it’s a testament to my Taos, New Mexico adolescence, where people flail off the side of the road and die all the time, and homicide abounds- not to mention the rampant drug use and flagrant sexuality among the youth -that has tainted me and made me unfit for the young minds of today. I’ll allow that not everywhere is as magically delicious and dangerous as Taos.  Maybe I have been ruined and my perspective is off.

But wait, did I not just hear something about blow job parties, bullying so extreme that kids are committing suicide, and incest and rape stats through the roof?  Those are the realities of what teenagers are going through, but people don’t want kids to read about that.

As a writer friend of mine says, we’re writing for the adults who decide what teenagers should read. She regularly receives hate mail, which she says goes mostly, “Blah blah, inappropriate for the inappropriate blah.”

So now I have to wonder, is this going to be the insurmountable obstacle that I have to add to the fact that I have no MFA, no experience, and no idea what the hell I’m doing? Or am I actually going to have to rewrite it and take out the sex, tone down the harshness?

I guess it’s nice to be able to say I’m controversial, so I don’t
have to think the damn thing is just worthless. I don’t think I could face that.
I started a folder called “rejections”. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to put in it, but hopefully one day, I’ll look back and smile over my strenuous labor that finally births my novel. Even if it does get a little squished in the process.

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