Friday, September 27, 2013

F-It List Friday: Weepies

In today's edition of F-It List Friday, I'd like to disccuss the fear of reading sad books. I am guilty of this fear. I cry enough with a newborn baby and two hours of sleep per night; why would I want to read a book that makes me cry? As a teenager, all I wanted to do was cry. I read books to cry, watched movies to cry, and listened to music to cry. [I also remember crying heavily at an episode of "Blossom" when they had to sell their house. I also remember my dad getting annoyed with me when I did so. Ah, teenaged life.] But now that I am an old lady/grown-up/Ke$ha-fan-type person, I don't want to cry if I don't have to. I avoid movies that people talk about as "emotional." Same goes for books. And my musical taste these days has nothing to do with being curled up in a ball inside my closet.

So why write a book about a teenager with cancer? Well, there's a long story about the why, but this blog post is about the how. [I have to note that I just spent over an hour cleaning so much shit out of my car that I now have a stomachache and headache, so this post may not be as coherent as originally planned.] And I don't mean how I write.  I'm not blogging about my process today. I'm blogging about how I write books about things that are sad but try to make them not as sad. [Damn, this post sucks. I'm sorry. I wanted to have a regular post up each Friday, but I feel about as good right now as the bottom of my car's floor mats.] You see, when you are a writer and you are writing, you have to be in the head space of a book for months at a time. And who wants to be in the head space of a depressing, painful book? Not I. It is very difficult to write about a friend with cancer and how everyone deals with it and not go into a dark place. As much as I write books I want others to enjoy, I wouldn't write at all if I didn't enjoy the process [I used that word again. Forgive me]. So, as I often do in my own life to diffuse sadness, I add humor to my project to help me get through it. And sex. This new book has sex. I found that humor wasn't enough to get me past the cancer hump, so I added, um, some other humps, too. [Oy.] Once a book comes out, people are so critical of every piece and word and decision an author made while writing, as though the author was cognizant of how each word would be affecting readers. But as the author, at least for me, it comes down to writing a story guided by the characters and making it an enjoyable time for ME. Is that selfish? I don't care. What I learned from my time publishing zines that were all about me (and my friend, Liz, to whom The F-It List is dedicated) was that no matter how personal my writings are, someone else can always relate. Therefore, I don't sit down to write books that make people cry. Because I don't want to cry. It is possible that parts of The F-It List will make people cry, and that makes sense. As I've said, it is a book about a girl whose best friend gets cancer. But I also hope it will make people laugh. And cringe. And relate. And dance (can books make people dance?). Because it has never been my goal as a writer to cause you to curl up in a ball in your closet. If I had to add a label to my name, it would say: "Contemporary Young Adult Humorist." You know, after "Mom" and "Wife" and "Cleaner of Cars." Actually, it would come before "Cleaner of Cars." I write novels far more often than I clean my cars. Now that's a sad story for another day.

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