Tag Archives: teenage angst

On why I write it all down….

The prompt/question this week is do I keep a journal or diary.

Duh!!! Of course I do. I’ve been a life-long diarist since I was given my first “big girl” diary at the age of 8.

It was a 3×5 sized, hardbound book, complete with it’s own lock and key, hundreds of sheets of lined paper, and Barbie pink, my signature color. I kept the key on a ribbon that perpetually hung from neck. I wasn’t going to let anyone get a hold of that key and find out all my deepest, darkest, secrets, my newest boy crush, or my thoughts about myself.

I got to the last page by my tenth birthday. At that birthday, I received a new one – a little bigger at 4×6, but still pink, keyed, and the paper was lined.

I filled that one up by before birthday # 12.

I was a very diligent writer back then. I sat down on my bed most nights and just wrote. Anything. Stuff about how my day had gone, what teacher had reamed me for talking in class – this was a common occurrence and all my report cards back then had one common theme “Margaret-Mary needs to learn to sit quietly when she is done with her work, and not visit with the other children. She tends to be done faster than everyone else and has a tendency to disrupt the others who are still working.”

I would write about tv shows and the latest plotlines for my favs like Hawaii 5-0 ( the original one), The Brady Bunch ( hated Marcia AND Jan), Love American Style ( I learned everything I ever needed to know about sex with that show!).

I’d write about new books I’d read. Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon and Agatha Christie were my absolute favorites.

I wrote a lot about what I was feeling at the time. My preteen, then Tween, then full teen angst was real, bold, and vibrantly displayed in the pages of my Barbie pink journal. Inadequacies about my body, my personality, my basic worth, were all tortuously categorized and detailed in vivid, descriptive words.

By the time I was in college, I was still writing down my thoughts and using a journal for an emotional outlet, a friend, and a confidant. The fact that the pages never offered advice, censure, or any kind of validation to my thoughts, didn’t seem to matter at the time.

Fast forward a few years and I got married, then pregnant. While I was waiting for my daughter to be cooked, I started a new journal just for her. It detailed all her vitals and personal stuff, how she was doing in utero – how I was, too. We didn’t know the sex and kept it unknown until she popped out. From day one of her actual life on earth, I started a new journal for her, again detailing all the events in her life, the milestones, my hopes and dreams for her.

I stopped keeping a diary for her when she started doing her own journaling at 7 years old.

What’s that dopey expression about apples and trees? Black pots and kettles?

Let’s see what the other authors in the hop think about diaries, journals, and writing all your thoughts down for prosperity.

Click the link here: MFRW AUTHOR HOP

 

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The #book that changed my life…

The other day I was re-reading ( yes, I do this often!) THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by  L.Frank Baum.

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Now, the first question you are probably going to ask yourself is, why in the name of all that’s holy is she reading this when she can watch the movie? After all, it’s a classic for a reason and the time involved to watch it is a mere 2.5 hours instead of days to read the book.

Good question. Trust me, I have my reasons.

You all know I lovelovelove Pride and Prejudice

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and Gone With The Wind.

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I’ve written several times in blog posts about how those books literally carved a romance writing career out of the dust for me. But, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first book I ever remember reading that actually made a difference in my life.

 

Let me ‘splain it you, Lucy.

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Like Dorothy, I was a solitary child, a bit of a misfit ( okay, more than a bit!), and a dreamer. The only child of divorced parents who both had their own issues, I was often left to my own devices and sometimes found it difficult to stay out of trouble. Not bad trouble where the police and child services were needed, but stupid, risk taking stuff that I would absolutely lock my daughter in her room for if I ever found out she did the same things!!

I used to spend every afternoon after school at the local library. Back when I was a kid there were no such things as afterschool care, and my mother couldn’t afford a babysitter to watch her NOT-baby until she came home at 7 after work. So  I would walk each and every day after the dismissal bell to the library. Homework was always ridiculously easy for me so I spent the majority of my time reading through the book selections.

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Now, if you’ve ever actually read the Oz book you know it’s a little different from the movie. I hate spoilers, so I won’t say how. What I will tell you is the moral of the story, There’s No Place Like Home hit me at a time when I was considering doing something really dumb: run away from home.

I won’t bore you with the reasons why I felt this was a viable option for me. Suffice it to say, I had my reasons. And to me, at the time, they were valid and non-negotiable ones. I’d been planning how to run away, what to take with me, where I’d go, etc..everything that was needed for a successful fleeing. Even back then I was a list maker and had filled page after page with my plans and what I needed to accomplish before I could go and start a new life away from…well, my old one.

My plan was sound. I was going to leave Friday after school. When the bell rang I would disappear. Thursday, though, I was sitting in my usual seat in the library, reading the Oz book, when I finished it. That moral I told you about? There’s No Place Like Home? Yeah, it hit me hard. After reading about all the troubles and problems and terrifying situations Dorothy had gone through, only to discover her heart’s desire was to be right back where she belonged – home – I had a tiny breakdown and a big change of plans.

That book quite literally changed the course of my life. As an adult I can see that my plans to run away were stupid, ill-conceived, and could have ended in potential tragedy. As a child, all I could see was heartbreak and depression. Somehow, I connected with Dorothy and her story. True, it was bald fiction, fantasy at that, but Baum made me feel as if Dorothy knew me. And more, got me.

I’ve never told this story before. It always seemed a little, well, to be honest, stupid. But I realize now that it’s not. I realize now, with perspective and the wisdom of age, that reading saved me, in more ways than one. It not only opened a word of imagination and joy to me, it also helped me appreciate the life I had.

So when people ask me what book changed or influenced my life and why, the answer is an easy one on both counts.

There–really–is no place like home.

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‘Nuff said.

I have a home library now, but if you need to find me I can usually be seen hanging out in these places:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Families… can’t live with them, don’t want to live without them

I’m fascinated by families and birth order. As an only child, I was the solitary kid in rooms always filled with adults. I think one of the reasons I’m such a good and thorough observer is because I was raised in that era where children were seen but never heard. I learned very early in life how to watch people without them noticing, how to gage emotions and reactions during situations, and most importantly, how to describe what I was seeing.From the time I knew I was the only kid in my family’s realm, I dreamed of having siblings. It didn’t matter to me if I was the oldest, youngest, or came somewhere in the middle of the food chain. I wanted other people like me around the house. Sadly, it didn’t happen.
My life long fascination with birth order and how siblings react and interact with one another is the reason I like writing about big families. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to invent the families I always wanted as my own. I would have liked nothing more while growing up than to have older brothers looking out for me and sisters guiding my way to adolescence.Families come with their own sets of rules on behavior and thinking and actions. Most of it is based on the shared history they have, and much of it is situational. When I start a new book series, the dynamics in the family come first. Is there a father figure present and if so, how does he rule? If no dad is around, how does the mother keep order, pay the bills, provide for her children? What roles do the oldest and youngest play in  his scheme? All these questions are thought out prior to my ever typing a word of the story. I need to know “my families” before I can write about them.I invent the parents I wished I’d had growing up, along with the support system siblings bring with it. Since I was a step-kid to two new “parents” when my parents both remarried, I know what it means to be the outsider in a group. Resentments abound, feelings of insecurity and of not measuring up run rampant, and you never really “feel” as if anyone is truly on your side. Of course, these feelings follow us into adulthood so when I write about siblings who are aging, I know I need to have them make decisions and run courses of actions with those childhood traumas and dramas in mind.

What about you? Come from a big family, or are you an only like me? Where is your birth order and did it play a role in making you the person you are? Or did it hamper your dreams and desires because things were “expected of you?”

 

Birth order, sibling dynamics, and families are truly fascinating to read – and write – about.

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The times, they are a changing…NOT!

I went to High School in the 1970’s, a time of great political strife and social turmoil in our country. America was coming off the hippy highs of the sixties and the age of Aquarius, and social norms were being destroyed and rewritten at an alarming rate. We’d put a man on the moon, finally brought our Viet Nam vets home to a less than stellar homecoming embrace, seen a President disgraced while in office, and been confronted full in the face with racism, sexism, ageism and Wall Street greed.

I attended  a public high school where a New York City police office was stationed at the entrance to the school before this became the societal norm. My school was huge, with over 1500 students spread across grades 9-12. I entered in 1974 a scared, nervous, naïve, smart and shy 14 year old, and graduated in 1978 the same way.

As an only child, I’d been coddled and protected from what my mother called, “the cruelty of the world.” As a child of divorce, I was an anomaly in school. In my entire grade there were only 3 kids whose parents had divorced. Me and a set of twins who were habitually in the principal’s office. And since my mother had remarried, her last name was different from mine.

This made me a social oddity when the teenage world didn’t accept others who were different from them. Coupled with the fact that I was smart – really smart – and grossly overweight ( think killer Orca) from an emotional eating disorder, you can guess I wasn’t the most popular chick in the school.

I was the kid that the mean girls- who were simply called bullies in my time –picked on daily. I was the girl in class who wrecked the test curve by getting better grades than 99 % of the rest of the class. I was the girl teachers loved to call on because I always had the correct answer to a question, despite the fact I hated to be called on because it drew attention to me that I didn’t want.

I never had a boyfriend in high school, didn’t go to dances, never attended prom, and sat home nights with my mother and stepfather, watching All in the Family and The Carol Burnett Show. I was that socially awkward and isolated kid who could have turned to the dark side because no one would listen.

The difference between high school kids in the 1970’s and now isn’t that different. Bullies still bully; druggies still drug. The jocks rule the playground, smart kids lead the class and everyone else in the middle just tries to get by enough to graduate.

Two things that did make me different from my peers and which actually did keep me from going to the dark side, were my 4 wonderful English teachers and my love of writing. All helped me get through some tough years and even tougher social situations.

Teachers do not now, and have never in my mind, gotten the respect and appreciation they so richly deserve. Without that one teacher who told me I was made for great things, or the other who told me someday she would come to my book signing when I “made it big,” I would never have had the courage to show my work – my deepest, darkest secrets and thoughts – to others. I would have continued to hold my work hostage, never letting any prying eyes go through it for fear of ridicule and criticism.

I was lucky. I had four wonderful people guide me towards what made me most happy and fostered that love unconditionally.

If you’ve had a favorite teacher, now, at the beginning of this new and fresh year, maybe you should call them, Friend them, email or snail-mail them and remind them what they did for you.

It’s never too late to let someone know what they meant to you during what has to be the most difficult time in a person’s life: Adolescence!

 

 

 

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