Monday, December 26, 2016

Managing Mischief

I think about when I was younger and how, for the most part, I was a fairly well behaved kid. It wasn't because my parents were huge disciplinarians, but because of self-regulation. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt whenever I did anything relatively "bad" or "destructive." The guilt was crippling. A tingling feeling would invade the base of my neck and travel up to my brain, numbing me from the inside out with a painful coldness. Nausea would flood my stomach. I'd be paralyzed, my mind a record repeating the one thing I did wrong over and over.

It was the same feeling I had during the beginnings of a panic attack. Needless to say, young me avoided this feeling like the plague.

I wonder, however, how I came to admire the kinds of characters that I did. I fell in love with Dallas from The Outsiders, thinking of him as a tragic hero. I adored Harry Potter, who wouldn't listen to the rules so long as it meant keeping his friends safe. He was a hero in more ways than one.

Most of the heroes that I read in YA literature have some sort of rebellious nature. What makes them a hero? Doing something heroic, sticking to their guns no matter what? None of them deal with getting caught or the guilt that comes thereafter. If they do get captured, the last thing they are thinking is I should feel guilty about this. No, they do what they have to do.

Though, these heroes are generally not dealing with the mundane, but with tyrants, corrupt governments, and supernatural creatures.

There wasn't a tyrannical government when I was growing up, and there certainly wasn't magic (or maybe I just never received an owl letter). The friends I did have, we had to carve out our own lives. I think self-regulation through guilt forced me into finding different ways to enjoy life. Instead of combating evil, I read. I snowboarded. I wrote. I played games. I drank tea. For a while, I knitted.

I won't get into all the times I spent bored out of my mind or staring vacantly into the distance like a cinematic overly dramatized moment of a slightly depressed teenager (but that happened too).

Because there were not a lot of heroic deeds I could do (at least not the kind we read about), I became the kind of girl who went to parties. But because I wasn't the "party-type," I would grab a single drink and nurse it while having one intense conversation with someone in the corner. I was the kind of girl who wanted to be surrounded by people, be a part of a community, but was terrified to actually get involved (What if they don't like me? What if I'm not cool enough? What if I say the wrong thing?).

Today, I still avoid mischief. Instead, I live out mischief and drama through my writing. Sometimes, the scenes my characters live through are more real than my own memories. Perhaps that's because we change our memories every time we access them, but that's for a different blog post.

So today, I'll sit down and create more mischief. My characters in The Mundane List are almost at the end of their journeys. I always stall with a few thousand words left, because I don't like letting go of them. Once I finish writing the story, I'm onto the first step of publishing, and perhaps, the first step of not having my work be successful (or perhaps, which potentially terrifies me more, it's the biggest hit of my life and I can never, ever live up to that expectation again).

If you feel like reading The Mundane List and seeing what adventures my characters get up to, the first nine chapters are available for free on Wattpad. It is, however, in the very first draft stages (as in, zero editing). I'm going to revamp it this January and hopefully get it published sometime next year.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays! Tell me what mischief you are getting up to this holiday season.

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