Deus In Machina

In middle school I had a typewriter. And a stack of pink paper. I wrote what amounts to my first romance novel in the eighth grade using that typewriter and that pink paper.

Loosely styled upon the novels of the late V.C. Andrews, both written and ghostwritten, it starred my then best friend, renamed Leigh and aged some ten years to protect the guilty. When you’re thirteen, twenty three seems very grown up and sophisticated.

I would feed in the ink ribbon, depress the carriage return with a ding!, and gleefully string events together into an All My Children meets Sweet Valley High drama, played out against flashy, urban backdrops born in my imagination.

The story was a serial adventure detailing her romantic triumphs and tribulations with a revolving circle of men–rather transparently modeled on the boys in our class and some of the male faculty members we had crushes on.

Lolita, anyone?

All the young women were brazen, buxom, and to the degree I understood the idea, fast. Long hair, tiny waists, towering heels. And the men? Mad with desire, addled by beauty, eager to please, eager to fight. I wrote myself in as a best friend. A supporting character. And occasionally a catalyst for the action. Deus in machina, if you will.

I would giggle and the plot with my friends, blooming under a blazing rush of pleasure. My friends liked it, and they wanted more.

Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself. Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you’re from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

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41 responses to “Deus In Machina

  1. I think we would have been as good friends then as now. And I would have begged you for mire pages then like I do now!

  2. Agree with the comment above, I would have been asking for more too. Sweet Valley High? You brought me right back to sifting through the piles of books in my closet. I love this piece, you have amazing talent and I feel like you just let us all into the perfect story of your life. Perfect.

  3. Deus? Deuce? Deux?
    I sing the body electric.

  4. What a wonderful story. I love how sophisticated the ripe old age of 23 is to a 13 year old. This brought me back to my Sweet Valley reading days! Great writing!

  5. I so remember Sweet Valley High. Wonderfully written.

    Stopping by from TRDC

  6. I love this! I used to read those Sweet Valley Highs and VC Andrews (Sweet Audrina being my fav), so I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed your novel πŸ™‚

    • Oh, my goodness, Sweet Audrina!

      Writing this made me want to get Flowers in the Attic for my Kindle app…

      But perhaps some memories are better than the awful melodramatic reality?

  7. Well, shit, woman. No wonder you’re so good at this stuff, you’ve been doing it for half you life.
    And yeah, I’m a MAD mathematician too!
    Loved seeing you write with levity, my friend.

  8. Oh, I have to laugh.

    We had parallel universes.

    I would work on a story, in 7th grade, chapter by chapter, and pass it around to my friends.

    Mine were never romance, but always humor.

    And my friends would laugh…which only encouraged more chapters in a book that would never end.

  9. haha! Love this! Do you still have the story?

  10. Ahhh high school. I wrote similar adolecent *ahem* tripe πŸ˜‰ Instead of VC Andrews I modeled my stories after Christopher Pike’s gruesome tales of teens gone wrong, spirits returning, suicides and murders!!

    Sometimes, I miss those days.

  11. Flowers in the Attic? CLASSIC.
    at 13, i would have written bad poems about my crush on you.
    wait, i’m still doing that today!

  12. ” All My Children meets Sweet Valley High”

    I’d buy that now, even at almost 40.

    Get on it…

  13. Firstly, love the name πŸ˜‰

    Secondly, this made me think of sitting in the back of my school library reading “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” trying to figure out what the hell a menstrual belt is and why they left this book on the shelf in an elementary school.

    I still have some of my old writing from back then. My kids get a huge kick out of it.

  14. Loved this and the memories it brings back when the epitome of super cool and delish had a car with a personalized license plate “Bruce1”.

  15. I never read Sweet Valley High although I have read VC Andrews. I can only imagine what the combination of the two would be like though!

    Do you still have any of the old stories that you had written?

  16. Oh gosh, you have brought me straight back to my high school diary.

    And to that letter… that I sent to that boy… that I still cringe about when I remember it.

  17. “Addled by beauty.”

    I so wanted all the men in my life to be “addled by beauty.”

    MY beauty that is.

    Sadly, it was more often “Befuddled by rambling.”

  18. LOVE this!! Brings back so many memories of me in high school – typing away on my computer (wishing I had a type writer, it would be so Louis Lane) and losing myself in the tales I would tell to escape my life.

    Of course my overdramatic heart lost itself in poetry. I wrote some pretty dark stuff, trying to find my dark side – even though I was pure as the first fallen snow.

    Great story! I can tell you are a writer to the core.

  19. Still have the Sweet Valley High books in my bookcase, my daughter cant wait to read them. but I think you knew that.
    When I was little, I put together my own little book ( not typed, my, arent you fancy) and I changed my name to Nineshella ( pronounced in my mind Knee-na-shell-a). yep. I can die of embarrassment now that I told you that. but in my defense, I grew up with like 50 million other Nicoles…
    I had a typewriter (eventually) that was a suitcase! did yours do that?? like it came with a top that turned it into a portable typewriter!
    sigh, I miss typewriters. mmm delicious clicking of the keys.
    I love these little peeks at your life.

  20. Oh! I used to have a ton of SVH books – somewhere in my moves they were misplaced. That bums me out.. a lot.

    This brought back a lot of memories.. typewriter indeed!! Love this! =D

  21. It is no surprise that I used to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING. I, junior high I wrote a story, but it was set in high school and we – I mean, the characters, were popular and had lots of boys after them.

    I would kill to find that story now.

  22. Aw, love it. I also had my own typewriter when I was a freshman in high school. Looking back on it – so dramatic, so depressing really!

  23. Pink Paper! Amazing!!! I want to read it. Who didn’t love V.C. Andrews back in the day, I would never had admitted it then, but I can now.

  24. I love this so much. VC Andrews takes me back, as would Christopher Pike. I would pay to see that story of yours. Were there at least white out marks all over it?

  25. So, do you still have that pile of pink paper?
    Could be fun to revisit and maybe spruce up a bit.
    I wrote a lot of crap poetry in high school.
    But I’ve had stories in my head since then that are starting to come out.

  26. Do you still have the pink paper romance novel from 8th grade?

  27. LoL I have done this. I have the beginning of a story loosely based on a movie, history, and a little fanciful daydreaming on my part.

    I still have ideas like this. I just try a little harder to mask them.

    …and Sweet Valley High! OMG.

  28. Ahhh…the days of typewriters and Sweet Valley High…brings me back. So can relate, except my stories were written for television and I was the main actress. Oh, the drama!

    Wonderful post!

  29. my favorite thing when I was in middle school was when my mom would go to the library and just check out all the YA books for me…and there would be some “racy” ones in there.

    I felt all naughty and like I was doing something so secret and great.

    You so would have been my partner in crime back then.

  30. I remember having a typewriter too, a gift from my mother, in support of my writing. I was a bit older though when I got it. Perhaps she was tired of cleaning up all the unfinished stories I started?

    This takes me back. I would have loved to hang out with you way back when.

  31. awesome look at the creative process πŸ™‚ I’d have been reading your work, too. No one kept an eye on what I was reading, and it SHOCKS me now to realize how young I was reading horror and steamy romance! I love getting this window into your personality πŸ™‚

  32. This sounds just like my daughter Amy and her friends. One girl recently said she had a ” thing for married men.” I doubt she knew what she was talking about (I hope-actually this girl is a sweetie)-but in any case I had a good laugh in private later. Out of the mouths of 14 year olds.

    It’s so true at that age-we think we are so worldly and sophisticated. I remember I sure thought I was.

    Thankfully, we really weren’t.

  33. I love the way you write! And Flowers in the Attic? Freaked me out! I wrote my first story on the first computer we ever owned. The main character’s name was Kris, which spell check didn’t recognize and suggested uris instead, which uris? I don’t even know what that is. I accidentally hit accept, and because technology and I have always been mortal enemies had no idea how to change it back (find and replace, what?), so my main character became Uris.

  34. I love how you used the prompt. Really showed the reader who you are. Thanks. And thanks for commenting on my blog!

  35. blooming under a blazing rush of pleasure. My friends liked it, and they wanted more.

    Really liked that line.

  36. It makes me sad that you were only a supporting character in what amounts to your own fantasy life as a 13 year old. I hope you are the star these days. xoxo

  37. This is really cleverly revealing. I would have written myself in in the exact same way. I loved the ding! of the typewriter. And the pink paper. That was pretty sweet, too. Well done!

  38. AmyBeth Inverness

    I, too, miss the *ding* of the typewriter sometimes! But I will never go back.

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