Depending on how long you’ve been reading this blog, you may or may not know that I’m an author. My first book came out in 2005, titled Notes From the Underbelly, which was a fictionalized account of my own experience with pregnancy, followed by the sequel, Tales From The Crib, chronicling the same character’s first year of motherhood.
The theme of the books was basically that Lara, the main character, hated pregnancy, didn’t feel ready to be a mother, and, once the baby was born, had some post partum depression and took a while to feel the love everyone said she should feel for her baby. They’re funny, sarcastic books, but they were written in the first few months after I became a mom, back when I was a harder, less mushy version of myself (emotionally and physically, given the mommy pooch where my abs used to be).
When I read those books now – now that I have two older kids whom I love and adore – I almost don’t even recognize the angry, self-obsessed narrator who was, admittedly, based on myself. And in the back of my mind, I always wonder what my daughter will think when she, inevitably, grows up and reads these books herself. For example, what will she think when she sees right there in black and white how much I hated her colicky little guts when she was first born?
Not too long ago, I made a genre switch in my writing, going from Mommy Lit to Young Adult. As a former college counselor, I felt that I understood the young adult audience well, and that it made sense for me to write in that space. Plus, the Mommy Lit thing was starting to feel played out. My first novel, The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball, was published in 2010. The second book in the series, The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball: Samantha, came out last month (and is available on Amazon.com, just in case you were wondering where to buy it for your 11-14 year-old daughter).
Unlike my first books, these books are not based on me at all. They’re based instead on three best friends, one of whom inherits a Magic 8 Ball type of toy from her lovable yet crazy aunt who has just passed away. The girls mess around with it, and soon discover that everything they ask the ball actually comes true. The first book revolves around a character named Erin’s experience with the ball. The new one is about what Erin’s best friend, Samantha, does with it. Again, unlike my first books, these books aren’t bitter or sarcastic. Rather, they’re cute and sweet and funny in a middle school girl kind of way. Which, I hate to admit, is more like the person I am now. (Of course, I think I’m slightly more mature than a middle school girl, but you know what I mean). Where my first books had the edge of a Ginsu knife, these new ones are about on par with a cheese spreader.
My daughter was eight when my first YA book came out, and though she’s an avid, advanced reader, I told her she couldn’t read it until she was ten. I didn’t think she was mature enough to handle the kissing and the boy crushes, and I didn’t think she was ready to read about girls wishing for their boobs to grow. But mostly, I was terrified that she wouldn’t like it. I’d raised her on Newbery Medal winners and Newbery Honors books. What if she thought my writing was schlocky? What if she thought the story was boring?
On her tenth birthday, in May, I gave her an inscribed copy of my book. She read it quickly, and she said she liked it a lot. Whether she was telling me the truth I’ll never know – I don’t think she has it in her to tell me that she hated it, even if she did – but I think she genuinely enjoyed it. Eventually, I know that she’ll discover my adult books, too, and I won’t be able to stop her from reading them. When she does, I hope she’ll realize that the person who wrote it wasn’t the same person who raised her. I hope she’ll remember reading The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball when she was ten, and that she’ll remember how sweet and wholesome it was. Because when she reads those books, I’m not that worried about whether she’ll think they’re bad. But I’m very concerned about whether she’ll think that I am.