That’s right, folks, it’s time for yet another How The Hell I Got Myself Into this installment. When you’re at a loss for interesting things to blog about (or just waiting for a situation to settle enough to form a complete opinion, as I currently am with the Macmillan-Amazon fiasco), you can always turn to that unfailing fallback, mining the most embarrassing moments of your past for entertainment. At least I won’t run out of material.
I am fourteen, a freshman in oversized tee shirts and torn jeans and worn out sneakers. My hair has finally settled, thank god, but the rest of me looks like it wants to be at the skater park. I have reclaimed HARRIET THE SPY, which was a favorite from fifth grade that is now favored even over my idol Stephen King.
It’s the notebook that did it, you see. How awesome was that notebook? Everybody wanted to read it.
I have my own now, inked all over with random designs that get me through the more boring classes. I mean, I have several, of course, that are actually for classes: but this one is for the short stories I write compulsively, and –now that I’ve reread HARRIET– for random observations about people that I make with flair and scowling fervor, prompting my friends to ask me what the hell I’m doing. I have always had a notebook like this, truth be told: but who knew that carrying it around publicly would make such a stir?
And here I am in the cafeteria on a study break, scribbling madly, knowing half the eyes at the table are on me– and also knowing that there is nothing really worthy of their interest in here, unless you like short stories, rhyming poetry, and irritated comparisons of certain teachers to various flora and fauna. This isn’t the lost notes of Deep Throat. It’s not even HARRIET THE SPY (which is just as well, I think sourly, considering how well that turned out for Harriet). It’s really not very much of anything.
Emily leans forward. So when do I get to read your notebook? she asks. There are mutters of agreement.
I smile, scribble, and try not to panic. This has worked a little better than I thought it would. I just thought it would be an nice image, writer with notebook, you know? Flipping back through with some desperation, I understand that I don’t really have anything worth reading in here. But I’ve scribbled so furiously (and publicly) for so many weeks that there’s no way anybody could believe otherwise.
At the end of the year, I say confidently. Surely that will be enough time to get rid of all the crap in here and come up with something interesting, I think. Also, they might forget.
Did they, you ask? No, of course not.
Did I follow through and edit myself into something worth reading? Um. Not exactly.
Did they find it quirky and interesting anyway, did we all have a good laugh about it, go out for ice cream, learn an important life lesson, and was my path as a writer cemented at the tender age of fourteen?
Oh hell no.
I think there might have been some painfully polite commentary before we all moved on to whatever else was 1000 times more interesting, and I put the notebook away, to be replaced with my usual method of using half my class notebooks for much the same purpose, but quietly.
Lessons learned: 1) revise, for the love of god, revise; and 2) hype only works if the product is worth the advertising.