Do you believe in signs? Not like astrological signs, but the kind that make you feel like you’re going in the right direction. I am a huge believer in the universe telling me whether or not I’m making the right decisions. Obviously I don’t depend on signs or wait for them or live my life based on acts of the universe, but when they do come up, I am grateful. I give thanks to the universe and feel better about the direction I’m going.
I got a sign this morning. As I said, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo because this blog has showed me just how much I missed writing. I’ve had this idea for a novel floating around in my head pretty much since I was 16, but most seriously since seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower a couple of months ago. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a book that came out in the late 90s told from the perspective of a boy who is socially awkward and therefore an outcast. When he becomes friends with this magical group of misfits, he becomes more secure and confident in himself. When the book first came out it was billed as a modern Catcher in the Rye, and it completely lives up to that comparison. It’s a beautiful story and I completely related to it as a teenager, and even a lot of elements as an adult. But after seeing the movie I wondered why there were no similar stories about girls that jumped out at me. Of course I had female protagonists that I looked up to and admired as a kid, like Marjorie in Marjorie Morningstar and Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. But I couldn’t think of a book like Catcher or Perks that featured a girl having this life altering experience. So this November, I’ve decided to write it. (just as a side note, I’m sure these books exist, I’m just not so up on my YA lit these days and there isn’t a book that rushes to my mind the way Catcher does when I think of stories about boys).
My novel is loosely based on an experience that I had when I was 15 and participated in a summer musical with a company the next town over from where I grew up. The experience literally changed my life. I wrote about it when I talked about the comfort of being the youngest. Through the first summer that I spent with SSMT I gained so much confidence and was so much more self-assured when I went back to school in the fall. I decided to use that backdrop and those friends that I made as the basis for my novel. My protagonist has no expectations for her life, she is content to let things happen to her and around her without ever really standing up for herself. Through her participation in 42nd Street, she becomes more than just an ensemble player in her own life. The characters are not my friends exactly, but combinations and compilations of the traits that made those people so special to me and important in my life. It’s been amazing so far to go back to that summer in my mind and in my journals (which are a total trip). I love writing as a teenage girl, probably because, in a lot of ways, I still feel like one.
I guess you’re wondering what this has to do with signs. I started my novel five days ago. This morning I got a facebook notification that I had been invited to join the SSMT Official Facebook Page. SSMT has been sadly defunct since 2003. I have seen the friends that I have made since that summer many times over the years, but we rarely discuss our high school and college summers because we’re all adults now and have more to say about our current lives. I only just told one of those friends about the book on Saturday night, and she’s not even the one who started the facebook page. The page was started completely independently of me and my book. Just seeing the notification in my inbox pushed me forward. It made me feel like I am telling a story worth telling. That other people still think about SSMT and that it made a difference in a lot of people’s lives, not just mine.
As of today I am 1/5 of the way through my 50,000 words and I am so excited to tell this girl’s story because I’m so sure that so many other girls have similar ones to share.