Genre Writer

When I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but not any particular kind. I wrote all sorts of different stories as a teenager, and the only goals I had were to entertain myself and to make my friends laugh and flail their arms and demand more.

My first novel, composed at age fifteen, was a magical girl story with heavy anime influences. The main character was an immortal queen whose life was tied to the life of the land she ruled. I was especially proud of the three crucifixions in the last chapter.

Sailor-moon

(Anime was really fucked up in 1997, just saying.)

Another story followed the adventures of four young women, all thinly veiled portraits of me and my friends as adults, as they pursued successful careers in the arts in New York City. Another was a hardboiled mystery featuring a main character who was basically the Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files.

The real headliner of my adolescent writing career was A Society of Like Minds. I started Society the summer of 1998, when I was 16, and I worked on it devotedly over the next two years. Society was a work of historical fiction that reflected my obsession with the English Romantic poets. My characters were all vaguely aristocratic and vaguely scandalous: one had a French opera singer for a wife, one had a mysteriously dead husband, there were rumors of infidelity between sister- and brother-in-law, etc. They all lived together in Florence and had strong feelings about society and God. I am still convinced it is some kind of masterpiece, and I occasionally pour over the old manuscripts with giggling and glee.

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(Remember that time Gabriel Byrne was Byron and Natasha Richardson was Mary Shelley and Julian Sands made out with a woman who had eyes for nipples?)

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A Little Pretender

A few years ago, my mother asked me, rather plaintively, “Don’t you have any happy memories from your childhood?”

I get the feeling that most of my friends, to say nothing of the readers of this blog, will be surprised to hear this, but I think that as a kid I was happy more often than I wasn’t. My childhood, considered as an epoch, was not a happy time, but that just meant that the full force of my infant genius was focused on finding ways to make myself feel better. Kids are more likely to succeed at that than anybody else, I think.

It’s easy to forget that I was ever happy. For a long while I’ve been a bit worried that if I acknowledged having ever been anything other than abjectly miserable prior to the age of 18, the Authenticity Police would swoop in and tear up my abuse survivor membership card. And it’s complicated by the fact that the abuse shaped me in ways that meant that the things that made me happy as a child were a little weird. We’ve already discussed how between the ages of 11 and 13 my chief thrill in life was to contemplate how Anastasia Romanov died alone in the snow. So it’s probably not too shocking that at the age of 7, I spent a lot of time pretending to be Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, scrubbing floors.

saracrewe

(The only true adaption of A Little Princess is the 1986 version. Accept no substitutes!)

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