I Skyped with a friend last night. We've both been embarking on new projects. I always get a little frazzled when trying to come up with new projects. For me, it's a process of generating a million ideas, falling in love with each one, and then seeing which of those is going to last. It can be heartbreaking to fall in love for 10k words only to realize that it's not the right story. But that's the way I work.
Anyway, we've been having conversations about the kinds of books we want to write. We're both known for certain types of books and have been looking at ways to break out of the mold. Not that the mold is bad, but in YA, you have to keep moving forward. You have to innovate or perish.
My friend told me about an idea she'd had but had been afraid she couldn't write. We brainstormed and her idea was brilliant. It was cool and new and she had so many great places she could take it. She admitted she'd had ideas like it before but didn't think she was capable of pulling off something so different. But after hearing her idea and how much thought she'd put into it, I knew that she was more than capable.
Your best book is the one you're too afraid to write. I'm pretty sure someone else said something similar, but I Googled it and couldn't find anything. My point is: Never play it safe.
You'll never regret not writing a safe, boring book.
But you might regret not writing the one that scared the crap out of you.
And because it's Monday and I'm sleepy (lazy), here's a sample of something I'm working on right now. I'm still in the honeymoon phase, so it might not survive, but I'm cool with that.
I know who you are.
I know what you had for breakfast and that you didn't read today's chapter on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
I know that you forgot to put on deodorant. That you stole a bottle of water from the corner store on the way to school. That your father hits your little brother. That you secretly hate the movies everyone else loves and that you'd die if anyone found out.
I know you fantasize about screwing the gym teacher on the soccer field and that your parents would kick you out if they discovered your secret.
I know that you're afraid of dying.
That you're afraid of living.
That you're afraid you're ordinary.
That you're afraid no one will ever love you.
I know what you're thinking
When you know what everyone else is thinking, you realize that it must've been dumb luck that humans became the dominant species on the planet. We're so insecure and scared and witless and self-destructive. Too self-destructive to survive, really.
But here we are.
Here I am.
Just another Bug, surfing the endless channels of teenage narcissism when I should be listening to Mr. Horsey's lecture on cell division. His name's not really Horsey by the way, it's Morrisey, but he keeps his hair tied back in a ponytail that practically begs for the equine comparison.
Sometimes, I wish I couldn't hear them at all. It's an endless stream of sex and food and music and sex and sex and sex. Especially from that kid. Carter Whatshisname. He's nothing but a walking, talking hormone. He told everyone last semester that he hurt his neck playing basketball, but that was a lie. Only his therapist knows the sordid truth.
But I'll never tell.
Not his thoughts, and not yours.
Not unless you do something worth telling.