It’s a well-known fact that I love books. And not just a particular type of book. I feel like all genres have their merits.I grew up on fantasy and classical fiction. I remember my father reading The Jungle Book to me, and then feeling very confused when I finally saw Disney’s version. As I aged and started reading longer books, I spread out into poetry, non-fiction, YA, contemporary, paranormal, and crime novels. Once, I even opened a romance book (the three for a dollar kind at gas stations). I didn’t make it past chapter four, but I got a good laugh out of the term “womb-gate.”
The point is, books hold a very special place in my heart. My childhood adventures with Bilbo Baggins, Becky Thatcher, and Mary Lennox made me want to write stories of my own. My dissatisfaction with Stephanie Meyers, John Green, and Christopher Paolini confirmed it. I felt like the YA genre deserved a better book, like the ones I grew up with. After all, Harper Lee and Lois Lowry wrote books for children that resonate with me to this day. My first theology class in college listed The Giver as required reading, and I still remember the exact moment when Scout met Boo.
I wanted to give kids like me a book that would keep them on the edge of their seats and move them to tears. I doubt I’ll ever achieve Suzanne Collins excitement levels, or change the face of literature like J.K. Rowling. But if even one kid stays ups past their bedtime to finish another chapter of my book, then I feel like I did something right.
I spent years writing my current work. For the first two months, I listened Ailes Grises in an endless loop, replaying the most formative scenes over and over in my head. Then I wrote and researched and fretted and wrote some more. By the time I was done, my book was a string of metaphors and symbolism.
After so many rewrites, I finally found ninety-five thousand words that I agreed with. And yet, I still worry it’s not enough. Did I add enough detail? Am I accurately portraying this Indian character? Will any teenager really bother googling “stages of grief? I like to think they will, but I have no guarantee.
For now, all I can do is sit and pray that an agent will take a chance on a new author such as myself. There are books out there that are far better than mine, but there are also books that are far worse. If I’m patient enough, I know my time will come. I just have to keep thinking positive thoughts and believing in the world of literature.
I tried giving myself this pep talk during my morning watch, when two of my co-workers walked in. They were discussing the book, Unbroken, when one of them said he would never read it because “why would I waste my day reading when I could just watch the movie?”
This morning, I died a little bit inside.