I’m 25 years old and, frankly, I haven’t spent all that much time in “the real world.” I have been living in fiction for as long as I can remember. As a 90s baby I am a walking catalog of Disney movie quotes and every other movie I’ve seen. Like most kids, I relished playing pretend and creating elaborate adventures with my friends. Sadly, we reach a certain age when we outgrow that narrow social acceptance for playing pretend out in the open. It’s when we gradually, or suddenly, become aware of society, it’s “norms” and it’s ever-present eye. You know what I’m talking about. First our friends don’t want to play the same make-believe games anymore. Then we start to be self conscious about those desires. No other kids on the playground are playing pretend anymore, so you better not either. We get so embarrassed about what we secretly love that we’re appalled when our parents mention it, and we try to pretend they don’t know us at all. Then somewhere along the way we totally get over our embarrassment and just miss the freedom. Eventually we get to the point of feeling envy when we see a kid make voices for their toys, or running around dueling invisible enemies. They’re allowed to be weird, and we’re usually thinking something along the lines of: “shit, if I was doing that right now people would look at me like I was insane.”
I guess around middle school, when most of my peers turned to more socially acceptable hobbies (these hobbies seem to involve the ritual of pairing off, like turning to make up and fashion and anything to keep up with the trends for the sake of fitting in) I just found another, more discrete, outlet, and of course I kept it as secret as my journals. Telling anyone about what I wrote would, of course, be admitting to playing pretend. I might as well be playing with my barbies again.
I’ve been writing for really as long as I could write. I still have a few precious pages of a hand written and illustrated story that was a favorite for my best friend and I to enact with our Barbie dolls. Let’s just get this straight here. Our barbies did not wear dresses and leave their hair down to look nice. No. They wore overalls and sneakers and wore their hair in ponytails. I still have that doll of mine. To be more accurate, my very best friend found the same doll new in the box and gave it to me for my birthday (still the greatest birthday present I have ever received. Ever.) She sits on top of my bookshelf. What happened to the original, you ask? She lived a strenuous life of adventure. Her head fell off. It haunts me to this day.
Anyway, in middle school I wrote a lot of short stories of the “fan fiction” variety (that’s a whole other blog.) Then after my freshman year of high school I began writing the story that would become Hidden Magic and the books that will follow (yep, two more books to come!) Truth be told, I have been living in this fantasy for ten years of my life now. Finally getting to share it with readers is the most terrifying and exhilarating accomplishment of my existence. Hidden Magic (it had a different title then. It’s had MANY titles over the years) was always on my mind. Without fail, it was what I spent every math class thinking about (and I still got As in math!) It was what I would rather be doing when I had homework assignments. It was the reason I chose to stay home instead of going to parties with friends. I will be frank here: my group of friends pretty much stopped inviting me out, no doubt because I usually found an excuse to stay home and write anyway. To me the most important quality in a person is honesty and I didn’t feel like an honest person when I pretended that parties were fun, or that I thought it was cool to drink my parents’ liquor when they weren’t watching. I didn’t like who I was when I tried to fit in. I really would rather be off in my fantasy world. That is who I was and who I still am. I couldn’t pretend to want the same life as every other teenage girl. No thank you.
It took me a while to get comfortable with sharing my honest self with everyone around me. I believe letting people read my books was a huge part of that self-acceptance. Once I got over the fear of showing people what I was passionate about, I felt better in my own skin, because I was finally being a 100% honest version of me. It’s a little ironic when I think about it; I am near fanatical about honesty and even more passionate about fiction. Let’s be honest then: I am 25 years old and I prefer my reality to be make-believe. At the end of the day, I just want to create something that will be that someone’s drug of choice when satisfying their fiction addiction.