Cheryl Van Eck
Powerful girls in YA is a topic that could fill books, and my WIP is making me question all my previous beliefs.
After starting this one, my previous projects feel like an elaborate form of make-believe. I designed characters I wanted to be and worlds I wanted to live in.
However, this project is different. I don’t want to be this character, but she’s a part of me. She’s the fragile part of me. The naive part. The scared, shy, uncertain part.
And when I let my main character just be, she came alive. I always made strong female characters, because that’s what the world needs, right? I don’t think so. I think the world just needs girls, period. All shapes, all sizes, all personalities. We don’t need to be loud, abrasive, and tomboyish in order to be strong. In fact, isn’t that the opposite of what we should be arguing? Girls don’t have to act like boys to be respected.
Best example: Melanie in Gone With the Wind. Sure, Scarlett was the epitome of strength. But Melanie held all the power. When she spoke, everyone listened and obeyed. Her judgements were law, always. And why? Because of her never ending love, kindness, and pure respectability.
What do you think? What is your definition of a powerful woman?
If my Italian was better, I would have understood “orange peel vodka” instead of orange peel “water” before the burn down my throat. Whoops. I still heard “orange peel water” as I questioned the waiter again. My distracted husband yelled “vodka” and looked up to see my guilty red face.
My weakness is to worry. I worry about everything. It’s paralyzing. I am Wemberly, in “Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes. My inner voice constantly says, “How can I read my story in my critique group? It might be so bad everyone will laugh.” “How can I ever think what I write will be good enough for anyone to enjoy?”
What I have learned:
Make mistakes. Make big, innocent mistakes. My list of mistakes in the past month is long. And this one is a doozy. It’s embarrassing, yet my husband and I are still chuckling at the “orange peel shot” after five days.
Do you know what a relief it is to not be perfect?
Mistakes cause us to reevaluate.
Writing is no different. How would you write this differently the next time?
Open your eyes and ears. Be humble. Try again. Enjoy the process.
I LOVE this as a writing prompt (like last week’s note from me, this one also came from Greg Leitich Smith‘s WIFYR class this year):
Pick an endowed object and identify it. He explains “An endowed object is something like a hat that not only covers one’s head, but has emotional meaning to the protagonist, maybe his mother gave it to him before she died, etc.”
It would also be a good idea to describe, briefly, how you would incorporate this object in a significant way in your story: 200-300 words, maybe.