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.
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.