I wish the love I have for my story and its characters was enough incentive to just get the damn thing typed up in order. My excuse for having no product used to be that I didn't know what happened next. Now I could talk about the plot's goings-on and the inner-workings of every single character's mind for a week straight, yet I'm finding it nearly impossible to sort through my mental clutter and organize it to make sense to readers. To me, the fact that the one guy is a catalyst is obvious, because I know his past and the decisions he's made, but if I don't record them correctly, the reader will just think he's an insignificant background person everyone else has a habit of discussing. Or if I go into every minor character's parents and grade school education and first job and annoying habits, I'll be spinning a confusing web no one will want to bother to decode.
I was thinking about all this, among other things, as I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist's yesterday afternoon. A pretty Indian woman was dragging a pointy metal stick along the inside of my mouth, making a hanger-against-an-iron-clothes-rack sound of death, and I closed my twitching eyes. "What happened here?" said another dentist in the next room. A feminine-sounding young boy's voice responded, "Okay, so I was riding my bike up next to the school-- there's a school by my house, and it has swings, so I was going to go play on the swings-- and the cement on the sidewalk went up like this, so I thought I could jump over it, but I fell off...." I smiled with the unoccupied part of my face. I'd met that kid, JJ, in the waiting room. He had told me the same story.
JJ and I hit it off after he complimented my hair, comparing its color to that which he called "the puffy pink stuff they put in attics." I laughed and told him it's called insulation, but for years I just thought of it as sharp cotton candy. He proceeded to tell me about going into fifth grade, his teachers' names, how the classes were divided up. I sprouted out a couple of elementary school memories for JJ, told him I'm going to college, and began a detailed rapport about the merits of trapper keepers. The conversation was endearing and nonchalant, and very reminiscent of the days when it was appropriate to look around a waiting room for the kid closest to your age and strike up a friendship. Along with my nerves about dentists, I was disappointed to see JJ go when I got called back for my appointment.
Now, in response to his story, JJ's dentist said something terribly stupid over in their room. Something, if I'm not mistaken, like "Wowiekabootles! Let's get those teethies checked out, Mr. Man!" I flinched, and the woman flossing my teeth asked if she was hurting me. I gargled the closest thing to "No, I'm fine" you can say when a gloved hand is inside your mouth. The only thing hurting me was how terribly a lot of adults misunderstand pre-teens.
Why is it that when a person hits adulthood, they suddenly lose all ability to conceptualize their eleven-year-old feelings? Fifth grade. It's the year you buy markers for school instead of crayons. Tests start to require studying. Somebody in the class will take to connecting everything to sex, and you'll pretend to know what it means, but refuse to repeat its meaning when asked for confirmation. Talk of who's wearing a bra will spread like wildfire, until boys reach out and snap any strap they see outlined on a girl's back. I can list detail upon detail from fifth grade. My homeroom teacher's name was Mrs. Evans, and she was loud-mouthed and had curly brown hair. I sat with Jess and The Most Popular Girl in one seat on the bus, and together we sang NSYNC songs about things we didn't understand. I realized I was bad at math when I decided not to learn long division. I was the third girl in our grade to get my period, I started growing out my bangs, I was a fairy for Halloween. Maybe all these memories will evaporate in the next ten years, but right now, I remember eleven.
JJ from the dentist's office is, more or less, the reason I want to finish this novel. Although it's not intended for eleven-year-old boys, it's a similar situation, in that the novel is definitely a preservation of my early teenage years, and I want to make sure I can seal the lid of those memories tightly before they go sour. When I was eleven, I knew I wanted to be a writer, I was a vegetarian, and I had the same three close friends I have now. I was a person, and an observant one. I never want to be that man who thinks fifth graders want to hear things like "wowiekabootles."
Sexy: Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked ice cream. I don't love ice cream, but I love chunks of cookie dough and brownies.
Unsexy: Editing through twenty minutes of footage, like I had to tonight for tomorrow's "fiveawesomeboys" video. It turned out to be two amusing minutes, after at least an hour of cutting and viewing and clicking.
Chipotle burritos this year: 25
S'mores this summer: 6
Bye, guys! Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow. <3