Let’s go back — far back (and I mean faaaar back, like a whole 4 years ago). Look into my crystal ball to see…
Teenage Cappy: writer, high school student and Strokes fan extraordinaire. She had long blonde hair, bangs, and was just learning how to do a cat eye (oh, so young with so much to learn about brow pencil and lipstick).
We’ll zoom in to April 2011, when Cappy was finishing her novella, Dark Blue, which showed promise to be one of the most forgotten works for young adults to date. Though…even I must admit, it was still a better love story than Twilight. Dark Blue told the story of a girl who found out her father had cheated on her mother with the mom of her crush. Confusing? Check. Bizarre and uncomfortable? Possibly. Unique storyline? Admittedly, yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Regardless, it featured some of the most contrived banter-dialogue known to man. See for yourself:
Notice how frequently high-school-Cappy mentions and/or describes hairstyles in this particular excerpt. Classic. Believe me, there was a lot of “disheveled hair-flipping” and probably a few more brooding looks coming from Mack in that chapter, much less in the entire 116 page novella. The reader (whoever that is, unless the NSA hacked into my creative writing computer file) later finds that he was looking at her intently WITH HIS DARK BLUE EYES. OH LOOK, THERE’S THE TITLE.
Skip forward a bit to Bea and Mack realizing their parents had an affair 10 years prior. Slowly (really quickly within the span of about 15 pages) they fall in “love” even though Bea initially thought he was a stupid jock (he was just misunderstood!) and bond over their intense infatuation with The Strokes and other various indie/garage rock bands. Bea argues a lot with her dad and Mack does something that makes Bea mad. Bea goes on some dates with a British exchange student who ends up only wanting her for sex (he is a total stock character if I ever wrote one) and Bea feels conflicted! OH GOD THE ANGST. Maggie’s character really only exists to serve as a stark contrast to Bea, and so fully embodies the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that I’m surprised I didn’t actually know that trope existed until years after I wrote her character.
Dark Blue is fun to read over again, because it gives me a little glimpse of Cappy from 4 years ago. She just wanted to fall in love with a boy who liked music and played soccer and had dark hair, regardless of how FLAT HIS PERSONALITY WAS (oh my God it’s almost embarrassing how boring Mack is). It’s nice to see how far I’ve come (I now date jerky guys and pretty girls with long hair, so it’s kind of a step up).
Maybe I can salvage some plot points, rewrite some of the characters (literally every single character) and fix the dialogue (which may take the rest of my life, if we’re being realistic). I didn’t start this post with the intention of ripping apart the story I wrote when I was 17 years old, but it just happened. It’s good to laugh at myself a little.
To be fair…it’s a damn good attempt. I wrote something with a beginning, middle, and end, and it was 116 pages long and took a year to write, and it made me feel accomplished. It’s better than some actual published books I’ve read (sorry E.L. James, but I still think I was a better writer than you when I was 17 and I didn’t even have to rely on bondage to make my plot at least somewhat interesting). I love going back and seeing where I was, because at least I can point to some new stuff I’ve written and say “I’ve come pretty freaking far.” It doesn’t discourage me from writing; in fact, it encourages me, because it shows me how much I can grow in a short time if I just keep writing.
Am I the first writer to give her own novella a bad review? Probably not. And anyway, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on.
Oh…did I mention that I began each chapter with a song lyric that embodied that chapter? Because I did. The prologue describing Bea’s parents’ divorce started with a Tupac line. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.