Hello. My name is Katie. I could give you the classic “I’m five foot eight, wear glasses, play soccer, like to bake, want to rule the world” speech and go from there. But I have given that speech more times than I can count (and I passed math), and it gets rather boring. Especially the “name one interesting fact about yourself.” “Uh… I have an unhealthy obsession with tea. And explosions.” No. Then suddenly I’m that weird girl who likes tea and explosives.
The main reason I’m here is because when someone asked me what two of my greatest accomplishments were, out of fifteen full years of experience, I couldn’t name one thing. So I hedged, I hemmed, I hawed, and I eventually came up with finishing a manuscript for a (crappy) book and performing in a piano recital. I mean, who CARES if I have a manuscript? I don’t even want to read it, and I wrote the blasted thing (side-note: I digress constantly)!
I had a major (for me) epiphany (realization I should have made years ago) about my writing style (which is pathetic). It actually came in multiple parts.
If you don’t want to hear a bunch of indefensible, needless moaning about how my writing sucks and my life is boring and I’m a useless hack, skip ahead to the last paragraph. If you like indefensible, needless moaning, I suggest you read these next several paragraphs, then seek help immediately.
Part One: I realized that my writing, while mechanically excellent (thanks to an English major mother) lacked voice and substance. Since I as a person tend to turn to humor (courtesy of a pun-master father) in daily life, so does everyone in my stories, whether it’s appropriate for the setting or in character for the person I’m turning into a wit (I’m not saying wit is bad. I’m a fan of wit. It has a time and a place, though, and an embittered alcoholic should NOT crack jokes while trying to rescue her colleague/friend from the Big Bad who had attempted to sideline her by threatening everyone she ever cared about. It just doesn’t quite fit.)
But I digress. Again.
Part Two: my characters lack depth. Sure, I work in the mother dying when she was young and being estranged from her Grand Duke father because she’s an intellectual and he’s a jerk and they don’t see eye to eye, and I have plenty of subplot and intrigue, but that doesn’t matter because my protagonist is as flat and flavorless as cardboard, even with pithy quotes thrown in at random. Scratch that. Especially with the pithy quotes.
Part Three: This one is a BIG one. I’m a teenager. And while “write what you know” is one of the most frustrating, useless pieces of advice a person can give you, people tend to stick with things they have at least a marginal familiarity with. So it would be logical for me to write about someone fairly close to my age, right?
But I don’t. Most of my protagonists are women in their early to late twenties. Some live secret lives, others are superhuman, and still others aren’t human at all. I wasn’t entirely certain why this was until roughly thirty minutes ago (I tend to have my epiphanies late at night).
I don’t know how to be a teenager.
I mean, I do. I AM one, after all. I go to school, I eat lunch with my friends, I say and think things generally considered to be entertaining, I have quirks just like any other teenager, and I certainly have my fair share of flaws (namely, complaining. Have you noticed that’s all I’ve done so far, Internet?). Objectively, I have the same things a teenage protagonist in Young Adult novels have. Except one thing.
My life is boring.
Okay, this may seem like me digressing again, but I swear it pertains. I recently started watching BBC Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman). I LOVE it. Can’t wait for the next part of the series.
But anyways, in the first episode, Watson’s therapist tells him he needs to blog about things that happen to him. He replies, “nothing happens to me.” To the watcher, this is dramatic irony, because we know the world’s only consulting detective is about to waltz into his life, shake things up, rearrange everything, and turn it all upside-down (not necessarily in that order). This statement encompasses my entire existence, though. Nothing happens to me. What makes a story good? Its plot and its characters. My life has a fantastic cast, but there is no plot yet.
When I say “my life is boring” and “nothing happens to me,” I may seem like I need to take some Prozac. I’m not depressed. I love my friends and family, I love my school, my life is fabulous. But nothing noteworthy happens to me. I don’t have wild adventures. I don’t go on spontaneous road trips. I don’t make friends with strangers because I like their shoes or their nose ring. Heck, I haven’t even been out of the country (although Britain is the homeland of my heart).
I dream big. I want to write novels. I want to go skydiving and bungee jumping. I want to have a tea party in a graveyard. I want to dress up in full Victorian garb just because I can. It’s hard to follow those kinds of dreams when you’re fifteen, go to school every weekday, have commitments to soccer and homework on the weekends, and have little to no source of income. That can be frustrating sometimes, and in moments when I realize I haven’t done anything I want to yet, it’s easy to feel dejected.
Now, enough of the gratuitous whining. My plan for this blog is posting short stories working on my character development, voice, and consistency (as well as a few other things) once weekly (hopefully) and the occasional (or maybe not so occasional) gratuitous post like this first one. As for the whole “my life is boring” bit, I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll just have to make my own adventure.