Aug. 28th, 2018

rockinlibrarian: (rebecca)
 So.

Got stuff on my mind that I want to get out but having trouble getting started here. Going to do chronological train-of-thought, so bear with me while I get to the point.

Recovering from abdominal surgery again this week. This time I needed to get a little hernia fixed that popped out months after/but in relation to last summer's gall bladder surgery. On one hand, it's a simpler and less pervasive surgery, so it required less anathesia and is all focused in one place, so I felt BETTER much sooner than last year. On the other hand, it's a DEEPER surgery,  so it FRIGGIN' HURTS more afterward. So most of my body is all, "Oh, I'm fine, let's go do stuff!" but then my abdomen screams, "BUT NOT THAT!" so it's kind of awkward.

But beforehand I was like, "so, recovery time means I'll get to watch a lot of TV!" Though of course I'm not quite as immobile as I thought I'd be. I did binge the rest of Jessica Jones during my first day or two. It's a very dark show but I like Jessica so much as a character it was worth watching, and anyway, the darkness came in handy because LAUGHING FRIGGIN' HURTS, and since I tend toward funny shows I didn't have a lot of other choices on my want-to-watch list. Yesterday I felt like watching SOMETHING but was tired of not-funny, so I put on MST3K, AND THIS WAS A MISTAKE. It still hurts to laugh.

That SAID, Saturday night I risked something light but not ROFL-hilarious instead, which worked out nicely, more of that, please. Teen Rom-Com. To All the Boys I Loved Before, based on the book by Jenny Han.  I read the book a couple months ago, to be honest, BECAUSE I saw the trailer for the movie and it was frickin adorable. I had bought and recommended the book in the library of course, but I hadn't bothered to read it because it's not my genre. 

And after I read it, having quite enjoyed it, I was still left with this feeling of it's not my genre. It's not-- me. It's describing this world I don't understand. Somehow I have no trouble understanding dystopias and fantasy kingdoms, but a realistic high school setting? I felt...strangely lost.

And the sad thing is that Lara Jean and I have a lot in common. We're both dreamy romantics, who work out our PASSIONATE crushes by writing letters to our beloveds, though I wisely only addressed mine when I actually INTENDED to mail them, and THEN only when I was certain I'd NEVER ACTUALLY HAVE TO SEE THE GUY AGAIN, which was incredibly NOT so wise because I was utterly wrong about that, and, yeah, I could be the main character of a teen rom-com, too.

...Except I couldn't. That was the thing that was nagging me. Like, the whole point of the story is that Lara Jean went from imaginary relationships to figuring out how relationships with ACTUAL PEOPLE work. And I mean, yeah, maybe I got there eventually in my life. Emphasis on the "maybe." Because I've noticed that lately I've completely closed myself off to the idea of New Relationships. I don't mean romantic relationships. I mean relationships AT ALL. If I should lose my husband, I don't ever want to date again, yes, but I don't want to make friends, either. I don't want to deal with it, how much effort it takes to be social. 

And so anyway, I was thinking, even Lara Jean, who in some ways is so much like me, had more of a social life than me. And I started thinking, "You know what that means, don't you? You just wrote about this. If you feel excluded from stories, it just means your story is missing. YOUR story needs to be written." Now, the irony of that is that article is about the need for Representation in Stories as explained by a relatively Default person to other Default people. One reason "To All The Boys..." is getting a lot of attention is it's one of the first teen rom-coms-- or THE first-- only counting American shows-- with an Asian-American protagonist, so... REPRESENTATION IS AWESOME. And I noted that in the article. If you are a relatively Default person, and you still feel excluded by stories, it's not because stories have excluded your DEFAULTNESS. It means there's something NON-Default about you that you're hungering to see.

I'm missing from Realistic Teen Fiction. That's why it's not my genre. I can't see myself in it.

But you know why I got into writing as a child? Well, because I had crazy dreams, actually. But the ONE RECURRING THEME that has always, ALWAYS shown up in my work is "People have adventures together and become friends." I couldn't make friends in the realistic fiction way. So I wrote about it. I wrote fantasies, mysteries, science fiction adventures for characters based on real people because an out-of-the-ordinary adventure was the only way I figured I could break past the awkward social mores that existed in real life. I never wrote realistic fiction. It wouldn't be realistic. I couldn't make it work.

My story needs to be told in Realistic Fiction, because that's where MY story is missing.  That's what they say, right? We need the missing voices. But I want to tell stories with happy endings, and I don't know what that ending could be. The happy ending of your lonely adolescence is COLLEGE, when you finally get away from the shallow-minded casual bullies you grew up with and meet people who are open to meeting YOU, but you're still carrying around repressed wounds from when you were 9 and your two "best" friends were not only always fighting with each other, but didn't even want to be friends with YOU if other people were around, the weight of countless microaggressions from all those kids, very few of whom meet the stereotype of "bully," but who made you feel so much lesser and excluded anyway, so now you have social anxiety for the rest of your life, and... see I'm not sure where I was going with this paragraph, which is my point. What's the ending? What's the moral? How does this story wrap up? Lara Jean's moral is she STOPS living in her fantasy world, and so grows. I started writing SO I could live in my fantasy world. It makes me feel like a fraud, like I've spent my life writing lies, even though I'm firm defender of SPECULATIVE FICTION AS SUPER-TRUTH. 

But, like, apparently the story that's actually missing from the world is not the story I want to write, and that's what's got me hung up this morning. 

Just... felt like sharing.

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