We were tagged by our good friend Dave from “Everyday Geek” to answer 10 Quirky Questions! Special appearance by one of Jason’s favorite most random things in our house…lol
Every parent hopes that their kid will be smart, and although “smart” is objective, depending on what each kid’s individual strengths are, it’s easy for parents to focus mostly on academics, because that’s what we’re all forced to put up with for thirteen or so years of our lives.
Personally, I hope that my daughter will turn out to be well-rounded, but as a woman who grew up loving books enough to eventually write one, I do tend to put a little more of my own personal focus into ensuring that my daughter can read (and hopefully spell) at an acceptable level. That’s why my husband and I would sit down with her as a baby, patiently showing her each of the letters from her wooden puzzle until she could point them out herself (at barely a little over a year old), and singing the Alphabet Song with her until she had it memorized (at about eighteen months). Then, I moved on to what I personally thought was the fun stuff, but is apparently something that many parents never bother to do anymore: I started reading to her at bedtime every night.
Of course, at first, she wasn’t all that receptive to it. She was still very small, and thus mostly wanted to look at the pictures and interrupt me to talk about whatever was randomly rolling through her mind at the time. But eventually it became a routine. Eventually she began to pick which stories she wanted to read. Eventually she began pointing out random words (mostly character names) that she recognized. And eventually, she began to mouth words along with me, or insist on reading little bits of sentences that she recognized by herself.
My daughter is currently in grade primary (kindergarten to most of Canada, and the first “grade” of grade school to anyone who doesn’t recognize either of those terms), and of course part of the curriculum is learning to read, she she comes home with a homework book every night and reads them to me or her father. They’re all very basic, repetitive stories (“I can make a banana with my play dough.”/ “I can make a carrot with my play dough”/ etc.) but I was still very proud when she first came home and read to us, pointing at the words proudly, sounding out or using the pictures to figure out words she didn’t know. I thought she was doing great, especially considering that she’s the youngest kid in her class (her birthday was just before the cut-off date and we chose to let her go instead of holding her back until she was a little bigger).
The stories were very simple, but she was reading them, and I was more than happy with her progress. And then, one night last week, we were reading a couple of Disney Frozen board books that her friend gave her for her birthday, when she decided that she wanted to read it herself. I let her go ahead, expecting that she’d be stopping and asking for help rather often, but was amazed to see how little help she actually ended up needing. Below is a transcript of the little book, with the words I needed to help her with crossed-out:
“Anna was a princess in the kingdom of Arendelle. Anna’s sister, Elsa, was the queen. The sisters did not always agree. One day, Elsa
accidentally revealed that she had magical powers. She was so upset that she ran away. Anna made up her mind to bring Elsa home. Anna met an ice harvester named Kristoff. He was covered in frost! Soon Anna and Kristoff became good friends. He helped her find her sister. Elsa learned to control her powers, and ruled Arendelle once more. Anna and Elsa were together again! Anna was happy to be at home with the people she loved.”
So by my count, out of 102 words, she only needed help with 13 of them, and two of those words were 3 and 4 syllables. Can I remind you that this kid just turned five this past December?
And the thing is, yes, a lot of the words she knew because she’d seen them when I was reading other Frozen stories to her, and some of them she worked out logically by noticing what was happening in the pictures (she knows that Kristoff is an ice “harvester”, for instance, and he was in that page’s picture). But that’s great! That means that she’s paying attention! It means that she follows along when I’m reading with her! It means that she’s got reasoning skills that she can use to work out a word she’s unsure of! It means she’s trying, in whichever way she knows how. And that’s awesome.
It’s entirely possible (likely, even) that my daughter will never been obsessed with books like I was when I was young. She’ll likely never get deep into writing her own stories like I did and dream of becoming a published author. And that’s okay, because I’m not trying to turn her into me. But I do want her to be well-rounded, logical, and hard-working, and seeing her work her way through this little book the other night showed me that she is well on her way. Score one point for parenting, and one point for a wicked-smart little girl. 🙂
I’ve been meaning to participate in one of The Daily Post‘s daily prompts for a while now, and this one seemed like an excellent one to start on. The prompt is as follows:
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or if you’ve ever seen any of my “Accountability Wednesday” posts, you probably already know the answer. I have four goals for the year 2014, and of those four the most important one is to completely finish and publish my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.
My other goals are are important to me as well, but this is the one that I feel I must accomplish, even when I don’t feel at all like working on it. A little while back I officially decided (if only in my own mind) that I am going to self-publish this, my first ever novel. I did a lot of research and weighed a lot of pros and cons, and what really brought me to a decision was the timing. For the past few years zombies have been kind of a big thing – there are tons of movies, books, TV shows, and video games that have taken advantage of that trend. But that zombie love is on the downward trend. If you want to jump on the zombie bandwagon, the time to do so is fading, and fast. And that’s why traditional publishing isn’t really an option. Even if I did manage to snag a contract with one of the big publishers, it could take months or years to do so (since many publishers insist that they be given exclusive chance to check out your manuscript before ultimately rejecting it), and even after all of that the traditional publishing market is extremely slow. If even half of the sources that I’ve read are telling a quarter of the truth, even after scoring a contract you can expect to wait years for an actual physical copy of your book to be printed. In all that time, zombies could easily become the last thing in the world that people care to read about.
Thus, it’s self-publishing for me, at least this time. But even with that decision made, I still have to, you know…finish the manuscript. I’ll give myself a few props: the story is written, edited, and beta-read. What I’m currently struggling with is the last set of edits, which includes a couple of small revisions that I’ve been struggling to get myself to work on. The problem, I think, is that while I believe these changes will make the story better overall, I also dread actually having to make them because I’ve never done such a thing before. In the past, when I’ve decided that something in one of my stories required changing, I would – though it’s outrageously counter-productive – re-write the entire thing. I’m not sure why, but I find it extremely difficult to change something in the middle of the story. I can change it as I approach it, via a complete rewrite, but actually going into a chapter in the middle of a story and taking stuff out in order to put other stuff in…somehow the process eludes me. It’s like novel surgery, and I haven’t been properly trained.
And yet, I’ve sworn to myself that it is going to be done, and while I’ve given myself the year, I would really like to see it done by October so that I can promote sales for Halloween.
How will I feel once I’ve done it? Outrageously good. Productive. Like an entrepreneur. Accomplished. I’ll feel like a real author.
If I don’t get it done? Well, let’s just go ahead and not find out, okay? Okay.
We’re coming right off the heels of the A to Z Challenge. If you somehow managed to miss the entire month worth of posts, I had a theme for this challenge, and that theme was “Fictional Characters”. For each letter of the alphabet I wrote about a different favorite fictional character of mine, whether they were from books, comics, TV shows, movies, or video games.
Most of the characters that I chose are favorites of mine because of outstanding writing, emotional acting, relatable situations, or amusing quirks, all things that can be very difficult to establish when building a good character up from scratch. Writers of various forms of media will tell you that creating a good character can be a painstaking experience. You don’t want them to be too flawed, nor too perfect. You want the reader/consumer to like the characters they’re supposed to like and hate the characters they’re supposed to hate. You need to make your character’s plight easy to relate to (or else why do your readers/consumers care?) but it also has to be fantastic enough to be interesting. You need to make your characters interact naturally and believably. You need to be able to follow through with the personality of your characters (i.e. a complete craven isn’t likely to go rushing into battle without a second thought).
I could go on, but the point I’m trying to get across is that it’s difficult to create a good character because there are a million things to think about, and often you don’t think of them until you absolutely have to – I’ve read entire books where I was never told, for example, the color of the main character’s hair, because the author never stumbled across a reason to mention it.
Because characters can be so painful to create, I came up with an exercise that I’ve found actually helps quite a bit.
I came up with the idea for the exercise while at work in the control room of my previous job. We were having system issues that day and literally couldn’t do anything until the system admins figured out what the problem was, so my coworkers and I were literally just sitting at our desks, talking and waiting for something to do. It occurred to me that here was a broad variety of people…we had two Frenchmen who looked strikingly similar despite being related in no way, a young man with a big bushy beard and a feminine name, a young man with a perfectly masculine name who was otherwise very feminine in nature, a Russian with a very strong accent and a quirky sense of humor, a family man with an absolutely ridiculous smoking habit, a middle-aged operator who was constantly singing at the top of his lungs, a very serious engineering woman who thought a little too highly of herself, and so on and so on. A motley crew.
So I decided to start writing these details down. I gave a page or two in my notebook to each person, writing down their name, a description of their looks, and everything I knew about their background and personalities. For some people I couldn’t write a lot, but for some I wound up with a ton of information. And each person was very different, very real. Each person would make an excellent character in the right setting and the right story. Some of them would make great protagonists, and a couple of them would make excellent antagonists.
Afterward this became my favorite exercise for coming up with new characters. I can sit amongst coworkers, family members, groups of friends, or even a group of complete strangers, and write down every detail I can think of, and BAM! Characters! Of course, when it comes to actually using people as characters I will change some details, like their name, but it really gets the ball rolling in the proper direction.
Writer friends: how do you come up with your characters? Non-writer friends: what makes a character great for you? Please share!
It’s been a while since I participated in any kind of blogging challenge, so I was quite interested when I came across a passing mention to something called the “A to Z Blogging Challenge“. Apparently this is a yearly challenge that has been around for a while now, and there’s a good chance that I probably heard it mentioned before at sometime in the past, but this is the first time that I took the initiative to actually go to the website and see what it’s all about. The idea is that if you blog every day except Sunday (because you have to have a day off, right?) through the month of April, you wind up with 26 posts. For the less observant of you out there, that means one post for every letter of the alphabet. So on day 1 you would blog about something that starts with the letter “A”, on day 2 something that starts with “B”, and so on. You can blog about anything you like; you can be totally random or come up with a theme. The only real rules are 26 days = 26 posts, and to use the alphabet as previous mentioned.
I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to sign up, and was quite surprised to see that approximately 380 people had already signed up by the time I got to the form (back at the end of February). I thought to myself, “Self…that is a lot of participating blogs!” Imagine my surprise, then, when I checked back to the website a week into March and found that there were now over 1000 participating blogs? And that was with three weeks still left to sign up! Yikes!
All that aside, I’m telling you all this because tomorrow is the first of April, which means the first of my 26 alphabetic posts, and I need to explain a few things ahead of time. First of all, since my accountability posts are an important part of my blog, for the month of April there will be two posts each Wednesday: one accountability post and one challenge post. Second, along the same vein, I’m going to continue posting Fiction Fragment Fridays during April, so there will also be two posts every Friday. Lastly, as previously mentioned in the big “Theme Reveal” post, I decided that I am, in fact, going to use a theme for my challenge, and that theme is “Characters”. Whether they be from my favorite books, comics, TV shows, movies, or video games, during the month of April I am going to blog about 26 different fictional characters whom I love. Doesn’t that sound awesome? 😀 I think it sounds awesome.
And one final little point: since this challenge is a “blog hop” that encourages participants to spend a little bit of time each day visiting each others’ blogs, the people who run the A to Z Challenge suggest that posts be kept short (so we can all visit as many other blogs as possible). For that reason these 26 posts will be a fair bit shorter than my usual posts. Most are in the range of 400 words (as opposed to my usual 1000 words or more). Don’t get used to the brevity, because I’ll probably be ranting like a lunatic again in May. 🙂
The fun starts tomorrow! Good luck fellow challengers, and to my readers, I hope you enjoy!
I have a confession to make. I can hide it no longer. I am a Clutter-Bug.
What the hell is a Clutter-Bug, you ask? Well, what does it sound like? My life and my mind are filled with clutter. Mountains of it.
Don’t mistake me for a hoarder, although material possessions are a little bit of the problem. Physically I do have a lot of hoarder-type clutter around my house. I have an entire shelf on my bookcase that is nothing but blank notebooks I’ve never used, and there’s a whole stack of drawers in the dining room that are filled with good old fashioned junk, like rubber-band balls and dead pens. I have a bit of a hard time throwing stuff away, even when I know there’s no point in keeping them.
But the type of clutter that I’m talking about is the kind that distracts, the kind that disguises itself as disorganization and generally messiness. There are almost always clothes on my bedroom floor, for instance, even though we have a hamper in there. I leave my phone, my tablet, and my Playstation Vita wherever I happen to be when I’m finished using them. There are books on top of my headboard that I haven’t touched in weeks. There are boxes of baby clothes sitting in my hall that I simply haven’t bothered to put away, even though it would take five minutes to cart them down into the basement.
I seem to have a mental block that consistently keeps me from ever putting anything away, thus cluttering up my house. It’s an illness. A terrible, debilitating illness.
But it goes further than that, because clutter can be mental as well.
For instance, in my closet there is a huge stack of jeans taking up a good three square feet of space. None of them fit. They vary between being a size or two off to being so tiny that I would have to get liposuction and a stomach staple to ever have a chance of fitting in them again. And not only are these jeans clutter in the literal sense of taking up space and never being used, they’re clutter in the mental sense because I have to think of them every time I look at them. Every time I open my closet I see this stack of jeans and they make me miserable just for the sheer fact that I know I can’t fit into them. I know I could fit into them if I worked really hard and restricted my calories and stuck to a daily exercise regimen and completely stopped drinking anything other than water and so on and so on and so on…you see? Mental clutter.
Most people do this kind of thing to themselves to some extent, but I, my friends, am an expert. I am the Queen Clutter-Bug. May all lesser Clutter-Bugs bow before me.
For another example, I have this habit I call “self-fulfilling failure to fulfill”. Basically, I have a mental list in my head of all the things I want to do, or need to do, and no matter how many things I am able to cross off the list I manage to add twice as many more. In this way my list is never complete, and my internal list-maker starts twitching like a drugged-up jackrabbit. It doesn’t matter if I’m working my ass off or sitting back and trying to relax, I have this never-ceasing mental clutter of half-finished to-do lists gumming up my brain.
It’s a horrifying condition for a writer because while I should be writing and working on my platform, I’m instead obsessing about a million other things. I can’t get any writing done around my husband or daughter because I’m so easily distracted by everything they say or do. I can’t get any writing done in my own bedroom because I can’t stop thinking about that basket of clothes on the floor or those damn jeans in my closet. When I do get around to writing I’m plagued by a thousand non-work-in-progress-related thoughts like whether I should be planning some blog posts in advance to give myself more time, or whether I should scrap this fan fiction stuff and just concentrate on my original work, or should I log onto Twitter and see what the other writers are doing? It’s a constant barrage of voices in my head yelling at me about everything except what I’m supposed to be writing about.
“Why aren’t you more active on Twitter? How do you expect to gain followers when you never say anything interesting?”
“Why are you focusing so much on this stupid supernatural romance stuff…it will probably just ruin your image for when the zombie horror novel is done.”
“Oh crap, did I write a blog post for tomorrow? Crap, I didn’t… Crap crap crap!”
It spirals on and on, until I have so many thoughts in my head that I can’t pick out any one particular one. And then I get very, very tired. Queen Clutter-Bug begins to slow down. She crawls into a dark spot and the other Clutter-Bugs swarm around and begin to eat her.
But there is hope! Or so I’m told. There are cures for rampant Clutter-Bug-ism, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and – if you’re a particular kind of person – alcohol. Scour the internet and you will find a million different suggestions for calming the shouting voices in your brain, the ones that keep you from ever being calm or satisfied. There are methods, if only one chooses to seek them out.
Or if you’re like me you can find your own release; little joys that keep you from going utterly insane. How do I dispel Queen Clutter-Bug? I do things that are completely against her nature. I purposely pick something that I know is material clutter and I toss it in the trash, sighing pleasurably all the while. I snuggle up with my daughter and watch cartoons – great brain-blanking animations that somehow keep your mind from thinking about anything else. I watch B-movies with my husband – films so absurdly terrible that you can’t help but just sit and laugh the world away.
My methods may not be ideal, nor might they work at all for someone else with similar Clutter-Buginess issues. But we all must deal with our issues in our own way, and for me these things are Clutter-Bug Raid.
Which reminds me, my mile-long mental list includes spraying some Clutter-Bug Raid. Excuse me, I really must get to that ASAP.
It’s pretty much a given that when a new parent is expecting their first child, an endless wave of advice will follow. Sometimes it can be annoying, and sometimes the “advice” makes you wonder how the giver’s children ever survived to adulthood. But for the most part this tradition of passing down the knowledge of how to rear our young is a good thing, especially in those first few months when we really have no idea what we’re doing. Expecting parents will read books, take classes, watch documentaries, research on the internet, ask their doctor a million questions, and still, in the end, everything is unexpected. Therefore it’s great to have people around you to pass information down, even if not all of it turns out to be helpful.
My daughter is almost two and a half now, and I like to think I’ve learned a few things. Though what I have to say won’t necessarily be helpful to everyone, I thought I’d share because it will be helpful to someone.
For my first installment, I thought I’d talk about germs.
This is a touchy subject for some, I know, especially those who are squeamish or have serious issues with germs, but here’s what I know: germs will not kill your child. Seems logical enough, right? And yet we have a veritable epidemic of children being scoured multiple times a day, disinfected at regular intervals, and denied some of life’s little joys because they might get a bit of dirt on them.
This might be hard for some people to believe, but Google it, I dare you. Some germs are good for you. In fact, we have bacteria all over our bodies at all times that are actually essential to our health. Dirt – the good old fashioned kind that your grass and flowers grow in – is actually filled with tons of good bacteria as well. It’s been studied and shown that kids who play in the dirt are healthier because they get more access to these good “germs”. And this last one is going to be a real shocker: guess how your body learns how to fight sickness? That’s right. Germs. Your body learns how to fight germs by being exposed to them. It’s no different from training your mind. If you do a little bit of math every year up until you’re a teenager you’re going to understand it a hell of a lot better than if you were kept away from math until you were a teenager and then had it all thrown at you at once. The immune system is the same way. It can’t learn how to deal with germs it’s never seen.
I’ve seen it dozens of times: mothers chase their children around with wet-naps, bathe them twice a day, and won’t let them touch their toys until they’ve been disinfected with every kind of chemical out there, and then they can’t figure out why their kid seems to get every single cold that goes around. On the flip side of things, my husband and I are very lenient on this front with our daughter and she is rarely ever sick. She’s only had one full-on cold that I can recall (which we all had…it was a rough one), but other than that even when she seems to feel a little under the weather she’s better within a day. The kid is extremely resilient, and yes, I believe it’s because we let her play in the dirt, we can handle her going a day without having a bath, and we clean her toys only when they are genuinely filthy. She gets exposure to things that build up her immune system, and so far it seems to be working quite well.
So go ahead, for goodness sakes…plop your kid in the front yard and let them eat some grass. Unless you’ve pumped it full of fertilizers and weed-killers I promise it won’t hurt them. It might even help them.
Children are funny little creatures. They’re little miniature copies of ourselves, and how we interact with them affects who they will become, how they will grow and act. And sometimes, despite the choices we make and the actions we take, they grow and learn in a way that takes us completely off guard.
My daughter is inadvertantly causing me to relive my childhood, and it genuinely cracks me up every time I think about it. It started with little things that my husband and I fostered without thinking about it. She loves books because we encourage her to explore them and we taught her the alphabet earlier than might be usual. She loves being outside because we made sure to allow her plenty of time to explore and enjoy the outdoors. She loves to talk and sing because we always made sure to speak to her in proper English and I would sing to her whenever I got the chance.
Then, as she moved on into toddlerdom, other interests began cropping up that continually amazed me because they mirror my childhood so closely, despite the fact that I have in no way attempted to push these things on her. One of the first thing that caught my eye was when I noticed how much she loves playing with the dinky cars at her playgroup. When she first took interest with these she had no toy cars of her own at home, and I never specifically attempted to get her to play with any of the toy cars at playgroup. It made me smile because I used to love playing with my cousin’s dinky cars when I was young, and it seemed funny that she would take a shine to them as well. A small thing, to be sure, but funny. Then, one day as my husband was flipping through some movies, she caught sight of the dvd cover for the original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. “Wassat?” she asked. So my husband put the movie on for her, and lo and behold, she fell in love with it. She took to all of the movies, the original cartoon, and especially the new cartoon. These days she doesn’t go one day without watching at least one episode, and most nights she wants the show on her tv when she goes to bed. She even has the new action figures, which she recieved for Christmas, and they’re some of her favorite toys. This makes me chuckle on a regular basis because, not only is it odd that a 2-year-old girl would fall in love with a show marketed toward 10-year-old boys, but I also loved the Ninja Turtles when I was young. My cousin and I would watch it every day while we ate lunch at my grandmother’s house, and he and I would act out many a battle with his cache of action figures.
And then, before you start declaring my daughter a full-on tomboy, along came My Little Pony. I’ll confess to this one: I looked up the show myself. I loved My Little Pony when I was young and I had tons of the little toy ponies, so I was interested to see what the new show was all about (the appearance of the word “brony” all over the net may have prompted my curiosity as well). So it was that I found a few episodes of the new show and introduced it to my daughter. The discovery was not at the same level as the Turtles, but over the past few months her delight with them has become nearly as strong. She now has a small collection of miniature ponies, as well as a few of the hair-styling variety, and on a regular basis she will request ponies for her bedtime show instead of Turtles.
These things, along with several others, have made me seriously wonder about the idea of genetic memory. It just baffles me to no end that, with very little proding from my husband or I, my daughter has somehow come to fall in love with so many of the things that I loved as a child. She loves sitting and playing with the loose strings on her pillow (I did the same thing with a particular towel), she has a strange love for robots (I loved Transformers), and (perhaps as a result of watching Ninja Turtles) her favorite food is pizza (I ate so many mini pizzas as a child that my parents should have purchased stock in McCain). I’m sure I could come up with at least a dozen more similarities that seem to have sprung up from nowhere as well. It makes me wonder what other striking similarities may pop up in the future. Will she enjoy writing? Drawing? Will her favorite subject in school be math? Will she prefer RPG-style video games? Nothing is certain except for this: despite any similarities or dissimilarties her childhood may have to mine, at two years old I already think she’s the coolest little kid in the world, and I know that she’s only going to become more and more amazing in my eyes. Whatever interests you adopt as you grow up, baby girl, mama thinks you’re just the awesomest kid ever.
A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
41. How a hobby has made you a better writer
I gave myself a night to think about this one, and when I woke up in the morning I had realized the truth: pretty much all of my hobbies have made me a better writer. No, I’m not joking or exaggerating. Seriously, almost all of my hobbies lend themselves to writing in one way or another.
Hobby #1: Reading
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. I love to read, and what better way to learn about pacing, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, setting, etc.
Hobby #2: Video Games
It sounds unlikely, and parents and teachers would probably baulk at the idea that playing video games can be excellent for improving one of the finer arts, but those parents and teachers would be closed-minded. Video games – even the older, significantly less advanced ones – can have rich worlds filled with action, adventure, romance, horror, mystery…you name it! Video games are excellent inspiration for ideas. They’ve even helped me practice my writing via fanfiction (I’ve written several chapters of a Final Fantasy 3/6 fanfiction and also started a Chrono Trigger one as well).
Hobby #3: Movies
This one is more my husband’s hobby than mine, but I guess it’s mine by proxy since I do, in fact, enjoy the movies. This falls under the same category as video games; movies are excellent for inspiration, and if it was a particularly good movie, the kind that gives you shivers and has you thinking about the plot line for days later, it can even be just plain motivational. In other words, experiencing such an amazing story makes you want to write one of your own.
Hobby #4: Writing
Seriously, you didn’t see this one coming? Writing has been one of my most predominant hobbies since I was in grade school. From little one-page scenes my best friend and I would write back and forth to one another during class, to a very powerful fanfiction obsession in college, to the manuscript I’m still working on editing, I’ve been writing for fun for the past 20 years or so. And isn’t that the most important part of being a writer? Actually putting in the effort to write? Or is this just my clever way of saying that I’ve already run out of hobbies to list? That’s up for you to decide.
A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
38. How the books you read as a teenager affected you
This one is a little harder than the one about books I read as a child because, although I’ve always been a reader, I read significantly less during my teenage years (which I choose to think of as “high school age”). Let me explain why.
As a younger child and a preteen, I was fairly awkward. I was smart, a little shy, and easily embarrassed. I got along perfectly well with pretty much everyone, and I had a tight-knit group of close friends, but I was not a social child, and I don’t believe I came off as someone who wanted to be social. I was the kind of kid the other kids thought of as a nerd. I wasn’t the kind of kid that got invited to parties and events (unless it was a birthday party of the type where you invite your entire class just because), and as we got a little older I was not the kind of girl who got attention from boys. But as we moved on to the teenage years of high school, I started to blossom a little. I somehow mustered up the courage to ask the boy I liked to a school dance, and from that came my first real romantic relationship. That relationship opened up my world a lot. I became exposed to things that other kids my age already had sussed out. My boyfriend introduced me to things like sports, fishing, and non-campsite camping, and I gained a bit more of a social circle which lead to parties, hanging out, and all those things that teenagers are supposed to do even though they’re not technically supposed to (*cough*booze*cough*).
The picture I’m trying to paint here is of a nerdy girl who had suddenly realized that there was other stuff to life than being nerdy. During those years things that had always been an important part of me, like reading and writing, took a bit of a back burner to all the new and exciting stuff I was experiencing.
For that reason, it’s hard for me to talk about the books that affected me as a teenager, because I find myself thinking, “What frickin’ books did I read as a teenager?”
But I wanted to be able to write a proper response to this prompt, so I thought long and hard. And then I remembered something that happened in my second year of high school. My best friend and I were taking a Sociology course, and I was in the first seat of the first row closest to the door, right up against the wall. On that wall, right next to my head, was a photocopy that our teacher had made of a newspaper article. Obviously I can’t remember the exact details of the article, but the basic idea was a story about how a bunch of “good Christian” mothers had gotten together to protest the availability of the new Harry Potter book in public schools. They scoffed at the book and called it satanistic, claiming that the author was attempting to lead their “good Christian” children away from God and into the arms of witches and devil-worshipers.
I remember reading that article during a particularly boring part of our teacher’s lecture, and the first thought that popped into my mind was, well…to be honest, the first thought that popped into my mind was that these “good Christian” moms were well and truly gone in the head. But the second thought that popped into my mind was that I totally had to read these Harry Potter books. There were three or four of them published by that point, but I’d avoided them for the dual reasons of everything I mentioned above, and the fact that the looked like kiddy books. But after having read that foolish article about closed-minded moms on an embarrassing crusade, I decided that I had to read them, and did as soon as possible. To say the least, I fell in love with them, and I absolutely struggled through the next few years as I constantly waited for the next one to be released.
If one book (or series of books, I suppose) can be attributed for bringing me back into the world of reading and writing, it would definitely be the Harry Potter series. Though I never got back into reading as much as I had before until I was well into my young adult years, Harry Potter definitely set the wheels in motion, and for that it is probably the book (or books) that most affected me during my teenage years.