I’ve been doing a lot of research into the adolescent phase of life as I try to shape my character, Paisley Tines. Some of the things I’ve tried to determine are what types of books, music, and television she would like.
One thing that I came across (oddly, I wasn’t actually doing research, I was just on Twitter) is a monthly series called “The Sanction Chronicles” which is about a group of interesting teens (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc) while they are in high school. I read the introductory page on Amazon and I found it to be amazing! This is exactly what Paisley would like to read when she’s not busy with school and volleyball.
Some of my most fond memories include reading in my room (especially when I should have been doing homework or doing my chores.) I’m a loyalist when it comes to books and I read my favorites over and over again. In high school I read a lot of what was just laying around the house. My parents are both voracious readers and have quite the collection of books. One Christmas my dad got the works of Josephus (a Jewish historian) and I read the first volume. I honestly couldn’t tell you now what it said (hopefully I’ll read them again soon), all I remember is wanting to know more. I read books popular with the “smart” crowd, like 1984 by George Orwell. I wanted to read books that made me smart. But I also wanted to read my old favorites (even if I didn’t tell anyone about them.) The Little House on the Prairie series, Dear American journals, and Anne of Green Gables were among my favorites.
As I’ve become a writer my reading has also gone up quite a bit. I’ve started reading best-sellers, new indie books that need reviews (so I can get reviews for my story), and books that I think would be interesting for Paisley. I’ve read more blogs, focusing on things to improve my craft.
It is because of all of this that I know that Paisley also has to enjoy reading, even if she doesn’t read as much as I did at 14. Reading is a critical part of development and in terms of developing solid female characters (as I talk about here ).
What were some books that you read as a teen? How do you think those books shaped you?
For some inexplicable reason it’s 10:00 pm and I’m wide awake while my sweet man is asleep. Luckily my smart phone is keeping me occupied as I sit here in my bed.
A lot of things have come across my mind. Some mundane, such as “I sure am glad I got the laundry done today,” and others slightly more weighty (which is why they’ll stay in my mind for a while.)
One big thing that can see the light of day (or night, rather) is how to create good female characters. While my experience is not universal it certainly had common elements to the stories of others. It’s easy to say “I want to create women and girls who are funny, smart, and happy to be themselves,” but doing it is a whole other ball of wax. Because even if you feel good about yourself most of the time we all have moments of self-doubt.
How do you feel about yourself tonight?
My plan was to take the day off yesterday, unfortunately that also meant a day off from writing. At first I felt guilty that I couldn’t keep my “post a day” goal up for even a week. But when it comes right down to it, days off are needed.
As I’ve thought about what I’m going to write about today, a lot of things have come (and gone) from my mind. I’d considered not writing today because nothing really came to me. Then I started thinking about the zoo. My sweet man and I are going to the Minnesota Zoo tomorrow.
About a year ago I took a course entitled “Gender, Race, and Popular Culture.” I know, it sounds interesting. It really was, but the truth is. . . I took it because it’s required for my degree. Luckily for me it was taught by Pattrice Jones. While I didn’t know it when I started the course, she’s actually pretty famous. For several weeks we talked about ecofeminism, which was really awesome. The main theory behind ecofeminism is that the reason we treat the planet so horribly is because it’s viewed as a woman (Mother Earth). So yes, our planet is a victim of sexism too.
And yes, this is going to be tied back into the zoo, right now. One thing that we talked about in the course was how zoo’s have become necessary because of urbanization. Animals are basically in cages because of the need to save them from us. Ms. Jones tried to impress her anti-zoo attitudes on us in the class. I’m afraid that she didn’t necessarily succeed with me, but I still think a lot about her points whenever I go to the zoo. Am I supporting humanities apparent need to use resources un-wisely by going to the zoo?
There is a feminist stance that the personal is political. Usually I agree. The fact that I may only make 75% of what a man makes for a similar job is very personal and I will try to do something about it in my own life. I don’t really think going to the zoo make anybody a bad person. There’s a lot people can do to be environmentally responsible (driving a fuel efficient vehicle, recycling, turning off lights, etc.)
What do you think about the zoo?
School has been on my mind a lot lately. What am I doing right now (seriously feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants half the time), what am I going to do after I graduate?
One thing that makes me really nervous is having to be a receptionist for a long time. I love what I do right now, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. But answering phones and soothing (many, many) students each and every day is not something I want to do for the next 30-40 years.
What’s more, I want to do something that affords me at least a little independence. Being the low woman on the totem pole can get old really fast. If being a professional writer pans out, awesome! But anything else as well. Teaching, marketing, etc.
Another concern is my student debt. Unless you have fabulously wealthy parents, you’re probably going to graduate with at least a little debt. I will have about $25,000 in debt when I graduate next August, and I consider myself lucky! I know people that have graduated with double that. I hope that I’ll be able to start paying down my loans before I graduate to create a little cushion for myself. I also have to consider my husbands debt, which is slightly more than mine.
Overall, college is a pretty risky business. But in the end it’s worth it (right?).
Much as I am not a huge fan of Katy Perry, I felt like this particular song was an appropriate title here.
This morning, after a lovely walk, I sat down to try and get to know Paisley a little more. I like to think that rather than writing Paisley’s diary I’m discovering it. That I’m really getting to know her in a meaningful way, rather than creating her. However, the case is that I’m really doing both. I’m creating Paisley and getting to know her all at once. Which means that I’m pulling my most poignant teenage experiences (and the experiences of others) and pouring them into Paisley to create a whole new girl.
This morning the Katy Perry song “Teenage Dream” started to play in my head. Usually I try to push it aside (as I said, really don’t like her as an artist very much) but today I took it as a sign. A sign that I needed to delve deeper into my own teen years to help Paisley have a real experience. What was my teenage dream?
I had a dream of independence. I wanted to be famous, fabulous. The only thing I’d ever seen with Audrey Hepburn in it was “My Fair Lady” (which I still love), but my vision of myself was her in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. I only realized that after I’d seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when I was 21. I desperately wanted to be French, even though I didn’t really know what that meant. I had a vision of myself as a fabulous mother with fabulous children (not really sure where the father played into all of that, but still. . . ). This was my teenage dream. It had nothing to do with sex (which is apparently Katy Perry’s teenage dream) and everything to do with being fabulous.
The reality was that I was the oldest of six children, one of which called me “mom” more than I would like. I was up at 5:00 am every morning to go to church before school. I was horribly awkward, feeling quite conflicted all the time. Not feeling good about myself, falling for anyone that gave me a compliment. Really just fudging my way through, being surprised when people outside my group of friends was genuinely nice to me. Not that people were mean, just indifferent. You know how high school is. Marriage was a topic regularly talked about in my home and at church, so my mind was on it a lot. I’m guessing you can see how that could be an issue.
So, do how I smash these two together for Paisley? The dream and the reality. What are my most poignant experiences that I want to pass along to her? What do I want to leave out?
How did you make you dream and reality come together in your own teenage life?