I spent today weeding and editing..the same thing, actually. So while one was a physical break from the other, I was in the groove all day. I weed like I edit which is sit around and admire every interesting looking thing in the flower bed instead of ruthlessly removing. Which is why it takes me FOREVER to edit and to weed. But I do have the ability to see the big picture, so I suppose that will help me through both endeavours.
I finished another stellar ya book. HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR by Jennifer Ziegler was recommended to me by one of my young friends. I downloaded the first chapter (free) to my kindle (which btw is my new favorite thing--downloading a bunch of free first chapters to read in bed at night) and fell right in love with this story. A free-spirited couple has moved their daughter Sugar Margaret so many times that she lands in her 20th high school in the first chapter. She decides to arm herself against another heartbreaking move by not making friends, not delving into the social structure and not making any effort whatsoever. She goes so far as to dress in an off-putting way and develop disgusting habits. What happens next is so fun, yet poignant, that I plan to buy several copies of this book for all my daughters' friends. Check it out!
I'm editing, I'm layering (and unlayering), and loving all the time spent with my current protag, Josephine. Can't wait for you to meet her. Here's a little snippet:
I decided to call my impossibly pretty and popular cousin, Mitzi. I found her cell phone number in my mom’s little book by the telephone. Mitzi had written it herself in her large, loopy handwriting. Bold and fun, like her.
“Uh, Mitzi, I need your help.”
“Hey Josephine. What’s up? You okay?” She sounded worried. Maybe I shouldn’t have opened with the whole “I need help” bit, plus I’d never called her on her cell phone before.
“Sorry, yeah, I’m fine. “ I paused. Where should I start? Maybe this was a stupid idea, but I did need her help.
“Hello, Josephine? Are you there?”
“Yeah, I am, sorry. It’s just—the kids called me Studydork and I know I’m a studydork, but I don’t think I want to be that my whole life and I saw this Oprah about these women who didn’t go the prom and it scarred their lives and I think I’m on the path of not going to the prom in high school.” Whoa. Did I say all that?
“Slow down. Now what?” She chuckled a little into the phone before she went on. “You’re in the 7th grade and worried about prom? And what’s this studydork business?”
“Mitzi, here’s the bottom line. I need to expand my social life. Okay, GET a social life. I’m afraid I’ll be branded Studydork for life.”
“Hmmm, yes, that can happen. So why are you calling me?”
“I need to change my image. Because you’re the most popular girl I know well enough to ask. And I trust you.” I nearly whispered the last words.
“Well, here’s your first task. Put down the book.”
“What?” I laid down the book I was holding. “How’d you know I was holding a book?”
She burst out laughing. “Of course, I didn’t know you were holding one NOW, but it figures.” She laughed some more. “I mean, in LIFE, put down the book. Stop walking around with your nose in a book all the time and notice things, people, the world around you. That’s your first task.”
“Okay, I can do that. I mean I can still read when I’m sitting down or in bed or at the library, right?” I already missed my books, my closest friends.
“Of course. But try to connect with people. Look for something interesting in everyone you know. Start with that.”
“Okay…” I said doubtfully.
“People like you when they can tell you’re interested. Try it.” I could hear the skateboards clacking; she worked at her dad’s skate park after school.
I’d never find anything interesting about Danny Cole, the one who branded me Studydork.
“I’ve got another tip for you. Promise you’ll listen?” Mitzi asked.
“I promise,” I nodded even though she couldn’t see me.
“Join something. If you want to go for popular, I think the cool sports are soccer and lacrosse.”
“I don’t have to be popular. I mean, are you kidding? I just want some friends.” The phone grew slippery from my sweaty hand, so I wiped the phone and my hands on my shirt.
“Hmm. What sports do you like?”
“What?” My hands immediately began to sweat again, and I collapsed into a chair. “What’s left? Volleyball. Softball. No, absolutely not. Maybe bowling.”
“Joey, listen to yourself. Bowling? Do you want to hang out with fifty-year-old women?”
“I guess not.” I decided not to mention that I enjoyed serving at Grandma’s bridge club.
“Okay, let me think.”
I heard her fingernails drumming and then a snap.
“I’ve got it. You won that dance thing last year, right?”
“Yes, second in state, but I quit. Toe shoes.” I could almost hear her brain churning as I spoke.
“I’ve got it. You’ll try out for cheerleading.”
“What?” I said for the second time of the conversation.
“You can dance, right? I mean, that’s a starting point. And you’re school isn’t allowed to do gymnastics anymore.” Her voice trailed off. I guess she could tell I was not buying it, but then she continued. “Look, you’ll meet tons of people. You’ll ride the bus with the football team and basketball team to all the away games. Cheerleaders are friendly. Find the nicest girl on the squad and ask her to help you. I’m sure she needs some math tutoring or something in exchange.”
I laughed at the tutoring comment. “Mitzi! Aren’t you being stereotypical?”
“In ANY group of middle school kids there’s always someone who needs a math tutor. Not just cheerleaders. Now I’ve got to run! JUST DO IT! Love ya!”
“Me, too, uh, thanks.” But really, I had a lot to think about.
“And Josephine? “
“I know what I’m talking about.”
I hung up the phone and groaned. That was not the advice I wanted to hear. There was no way I would try out for cheerleading. No way.
Have a great week-end.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.