I'm new in Seattle, so I'm wading through the social structure looking for kindred spirits.
This week, when I finished the public draft of my manuscript, I needed to celebrate with someone. I shared the good news with an acquaintance and she was ecstatic.
"Tell me about this book!"
"It's contemporary YA about a guy whose mom is murdered on graduation day."
Her transformation was immediate: blank eyes, fake smile, squared shoulders. "I only read books for grown ups." And then she glanced furtively, as if the book police would arrest her for talking about YA.
I can't befriend a book shamer. I'm not embarrassed of what I write or what I read.* Here's a sample:
That's just one shelf of the 36ish in my house. (I'm not counting the children's shelves.)
I'm not ashamed of the YA or the commercial fiction. I don't need to justicy the Griffen & Sabine trilogy (though really, the letters! The envelopes! I swoon.) I also don't feel compelled to explain the two copies of The Time Traveler's Wife (or the other three copies floating around my house.) Hey, there is American Erotica on the shelf, too. (Also, I hadn't realized how similar the spines are for I Thought My Father Was God and In a Sunburned Country.)
I thought about cropping out the shelf below for aesthetic reasons, but why? It elaborates on the story. Liberating Grammar, written by one of my favorite college professors, is quite good. You probably recognize the Harry Potters (including an English, i.e. Not American version. There's a story behind that one.) What else is down there? More Bill Bryson, The Help, Erich Segal's Love Story. (There's a story behind that, too. Two stories, actually.)
I'm not ashamed of any of that. I didn't remove a single book from that shelf. (In the interest of full disclosure, note that I did remove a chocolate bar from the shelf. When Dove milk chocolate is found in the house, it's a sign. It was delish.)
I'll photograph every shelf in my house if you want. (Hey, that would be fun! Take photos of your closest book shelf and share it!)
Read what you love. Graphic novels ring your chimes? Go for it. You only like 18th century French literature? Bon appetit. Everything by Stephen King and no one else? Go ahead and scare the crap out of yourself again and again.
Being ashamed of what you read is one step removed from lying about who you are. Read what you love. It's the literate equivalent of letting your freak flag fly.
Don't be ashamed of what you loathe, either. I could never get into David Foster Wallace, no matter how hard I tried. Most fantasy is just not for me. Ditto space operas. Most of Shakespeare, even though they might revoke my bachelor's degree for admitting it.
I love lots of different kinds of books. I love adult contemporary. And I love really good science fiction. I love nonfiction. I love reading middle grade books (Is 2008 ready to read The Penderwicks yet?) and I love reading YA.
I love writing YA. In fact, I am happier writing YA than I ever was writing adult contemporary.
We've gone round and round the Internets about books for boys, books for girls, books for grown ups. It's all BS, people.
Books are for readers. Read on.
*I am, however, somewhat ashamed that I haven't organized my books in the eight weeks since we moved in.
Artificial Intelligence, FTW!
Our new house has a fancypants washer/dryer combination. They talk to each other.
So, when I open the dryer, its screen lights up and wakes up the washer’s screen for a chat. They’re supposed to be communicating about the type and amount of clothing that’s moving from the washer to the dryer. “Be careful! They’re delicates.”
I think that’s crap. The washer is probably saying, “Can you believe she forgot this load overnight? It smells very slightly of mildew.” Or, “She overloaded again. You’re going to bust a nut tumbling this set.” Or, “Holy crap, does she wash a lot of small pink stuff.”
It’s not my fault. I have three girls. Society makes them wear pink. And tells them to change their clothes multiple times each day. None of us can change.
But the machines needn't taunt me about it.
I Feel Lucky!
So, we’re back in the States. Before our sabbatical ended (indeed, before we reached the one-year point,) Google nudged 1977: “want to work for us?”
So now he does. And now we live in Seattle*, which somehow feels further from our families than New Zealand did.
New Zealand was awesome. It was ten Christmases (Although Christmas in New Zealand was a low point. More on that later.) Had things been different for 1977 at work, we may have stayed forever. . .but they weren't, and now he's at Google, which would be a dream come true if he were the kind of person who dwelled on dreams.
You know how Google wins all the "Employer of the year/decade/century" awards? It's totally true.
We're settling into our new house. In a major coup, we got 2008 into an amazing school. Five months ago, sitting on my sofa in NZ, I was salivating over this school, but it's an option school, and we missed the window and I wrote it off because our timing just meant we couldn't get her in.
BUT, we got lucky. There was one spot. In May. We took it, and I could not be happier.
Seattle is pretty great. It rivals Christchurch for scenery, and my politics and lifestyle fit right in with our neighborhood. I miss my kiwi friends every day, but it's nice to be back in the States. Why hello, Trader Joe's! What's that you say, QFC? You have berries? Year round? For less than $20 a punnet?
I missed you, American economy. I'm not ashamed to say it. (I am ashamed of some other stuff, but we'll get to that.)
So, hi! What did I miss?
*I feel like Google Maps outed me! Cupcake Royale is on that map up there. Why? Why, Google, do you need to highlight that I may have gone there once or more than once since we moved here in April? Gregg's Cycles? Fine. Everyone in Seattle has a bike. But cupcakes? No one needs to know about that, GOOGLE! I am a loyal Google spouse. Be a loyal mapmaker.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: