Fake Fan Friday and the Launch of my copycat blog will have to be postponed due to the fact that I am unexpectedly working overtime this week. 11 hour workdays. I am soo tired. Long weekend ahead!
I am launching a secondary blog at blogspot.com. Why? To reach wider audience. Although I love you guys here at wordpress and will continue to post and write and follow you here, a lot, and I mean, A LOT, of people use blogspot as their blogging forum.
So, I thought it might be useful to have a secondary blog there. It’s going to a copycat of this blog with mostly the same posts. But maybe sometimes I’ll put a little extra here or there to keep you guessing. Maybe sneak peek saturday will have some hide and seek involved.
That’s kind of lame, actually.
Creating a new blog at blogspot has created some changes around here, too. If you check out Features, you’ll see what I mean. Also, “My Projects” has been changed to Manuscripts, where you can read a little about each manuscript, and there is a special image for each of my manuscripts, except the thought-in-process one. I haven’t thought of an image to represent that yet because I haven’t written a word of that manuscript yet. Maybe I’ll scan a picture of my beautiful grandmother. We have some old watercolor photos.
I am so excited to write it–in the future. I have some experimental ideas going in my head, like handwriting the entire thing because it’s supposed to be in epistolary form and getting some of my author-friends involved for different characters.
When I think of that stuff I also get a little selfish because I want to be all the characters, and yet I want to play with other authors, too.
It’s like playing Barbies all over again. Right, Caitie?
Just kidding…she won’t respond. She doesn’t read this blog. Although she is getting on my back about sending her CURSES again. She’s going through the college-age freedom phase of OH MY GOODNESS IT’S SUMMER AND I CAN READ WHATEVER I WANT!
I can do that all the time. MUAHAHAHAHAHA.
Caitie and I would so rock at doing Vlogsisters. Jessie could be involved, too. We do really have some entertaining conversations. Nonsensical, but entertaining.
I digress a lot, don’t I?
But I digress.
How do you launch a secondary blog? How in the word do you launch a blog? WordPress starts you out with a HELLO, WORLD! generic post. And then you have to figure out what you’re going to talk about.
So I revisited my first blog post to see what I wrote about. And I wrote about being terrified, writing, job interviews, my wardrobe crisis and tea. When you read it, you get that there is a constant underlying tone of general confusion.
I can’t believe I started t
his in 2011. This november will be 2 years of blogging. I started Fake Fan Friday over a year ago. Crazy stuff.
Life moves so fast and slow when you’re a big kid.
First blog posts are supposed to be an introduction to yourself. I’ve already introduced myself here. I guess I should start by doing the same there. What is the best way to do that?
Fake Fan Friday.
Thus, my first blogpost over at the copycat blog will be this Friday. Woot!
Steeped in love,
My audition is today. I didn’t practice at all last night. At all.
I look in the mirror as I’m speed-washing my hands, and I realize that I’m still wearing my clothes from the day before. I smell my armpits. Okay, I can pull that off. I pull my hair up into a messy bun and run into my room to grab my stuff. Hopefully no one at this school takes note of my outfits.
As I rush past my dad’s room I look inside. The bed is made up and he doesn’t usually ‘ve until after me. Either he has an extremely early day or he never came hope. But that is something to worry about later.
School is busier than expected at 6:50am. People are crowding around lockers already, chatting about lame things and copying each other’s homework. I see Meredith with her usual crowd: they all have perfectly planned outfits and are hovering over the latest Teen Vogue. She waves and I wave back with an apologetic look: sorry, can’t stop. Woman on a mission, I push through the thickening crowd to the music hall.
Once I’m in a soundproof room, I feel a little better. I pull out my violin, the sheet music still stuffed in my backpack from yesterday, and pray that this little practice this morning is enough for me to win the solo, and to give me the confidence to take it if I do.
The school day is a blur of struggling to do the homework assignments I did not do last night in the four minutes between periods and panicking about my audition. Then orchestra comes, and I feel all the muscles in my back knot up as I walk toward the music hall.
Although no one is looking at me as I enter the rehearsal room, it feels like it. Maybe that is because someone is looking at me: the Chinese kid I’m competing against. He has a smirk on his face and he’s sitting up straight, which tells me that he has played the piece so much he’s memorized it. But all I can think of is: You know, I should really learn his name.
No one has their instruments out except for me and Chinese kid. I sit down next to Brittany and start tuning. At the sound of my plucking strings, she turns to me.
”Oh,you’re going for that solo?”
I nod because I can’t seem to talk today. In science class the teacher called on me to answer a question, and all I could muster was, “lubnub?”
To which someone in the back of the room pumped their fist in the air and yelled, “YEAH EWOKS.”
And I still got weirder looks than he did. From the teacher.
Brittany leaned in close to me. “Good. Beat his snobby violin ass.”
© Sarah Hawkins. All rights reserved.
Me: I can’t believe I missed this, Benjamin. How did I miss this?
Benjamin: How many times does Chris and I have to tell you that you have to clarify?
Benjamin: What did you miss, Sarah. What?
Me: A new genre is becoming popular: New Adult. As far as I can tell, it is for ages 17 and older, about that awkward period after high school and into college. CURSES fits right it. It’s been gaining popularity since last year! How did I miss that?
Benjamin: It could’ve been you were wrapped up in wedding planning, graduating college, and two deaths in your family. That’s enough distractions.
Me: Wow. You really are a downer. It’s Friday, Benjamin. Cheer up.
Benjamin: I’m never cheerful. I’m just enthusiastic and monotonic most of the time.
Me: Is that word used correctly.
Benjamin: I actually know what you mean and I don’t know. So, CURSES fits into New Adult. That’s good for you, isn’t it? Cause agent should be looking for that soon.
Me: Yes and no. It’s still going to be hard to get an agent with this new genre, I believe. It’s only gaining more and more popularity, and I had been querying in the past year, and I didn’t see any agent specifically asking for New Adult yet, but I’m still researching.
Benjamin: Someone else has been doing some research, too.
Me: Yes, Chris has been putting together a marketing plan to convince me to self-publish. DIY style. It’s cool in theory, but I’m terrified.
Me: Last night he assumed that I knew how to format a book. That we can just do it on Microsoft Publisher.
Benjamin: And you don’t and can’t?
Me: I have created small books on Publisher before, for school. It was hard, and although they turned out looking good, You could tell they were not professionally done. They don’t look real. They look like a school project. If I’m going to self-publish. I want it to look professional.
Me: And he thought that I would just know how many pages my book would be in book style.
Benjamin: What did you say?
Me: I said it was 260 pages double spaced. But really, it depends on the formatting. Everything rides on the formatting, really. My book may be 260 pages in a word document, but depending on the formatting, it can go up to 300 pages easily. It just all makes me uneasy.
Me: It just makes me so uneasy and anxious that he hasn’t even looked into a format like createspace or any of the publishers that the self-published books I bought used. He’s looking into doing EVERYTHING himself, and that is a lot of missing expertise. And I’ve spent four years on this book, but I am not an expert at putting together, publishing and marketing a novel. And it doesn’t seem like this marketing plan has the “marketing” part that it takes to actually distribute the novel. I feel like I would fall flat on my face, and my dreams would be crushed all over again.
Benjamin: I see. Are we going to hear his side?
Me: I’m trying to convince him to guest blog a few posts, but he is all “I don’t know what to write about.” and I said “I don’t know YOUR RESEARCH.” and he still said “I don’t know what to write about.” He doesn’t take suggestions well.
Plug: If you have an idea of what Chris should write about, put it below in the comments!
Benjamin: In the meantime, what are you doing?
Me: In the meantime, I’m starting another blog over on blogspot to reach a larger audience. It’s basically going to be duplicate posts here and there, but I feel like I’m not reaching half of the blogosphere here, so I figured it might be smart to do one over there to. I’m also about 25,000 words into MUSTACHES, which is awesome. I’m getting to the point where I’m anxious to write and have to leave a notepad on my desk at work.
Benjamin: That’s awesome.
Me: I guess you are back to a monotone. Are you going to start doing my nails, too?
Benjamin: Nah. Not yet. I threw away my last kit.
Me: That was a gift from me.
Benjamin: Sorry. It wasn’t kind of cheap.
Me: What did you expect from a struggling author?
Benjamin: You’re not exactly struggling.
Me: Until I’m published and can quit a full-time sucky job for a part-time okay job, I’m struggling.
Benjamin: Okay, okay.
Me: Which…I have to go to work. See you next week.
(whispering) Benjamin: Wha…What?
Me: Benjamin, we talked about this. You’re going to help me out a bit by interview characters.
Benjamin: I’m not prepared for this. This is too much pressure.
Me: I made you question cards. All you have to do is keep the conversation going, like you did with me. Now let me explain to everyone else what is going on. (whispering stops)
So, this may be the beginning of a new “thing” on this blog. I say “thing” because I cannot think of the word for the life of me. If you know what I mean, please tell me what this thing is in the comments.
But I digress. What Benjamin is going to do is interview Kate again. This interview is based on one of the exercises in “Naming the World.” The exercise, on page 88, is aptly named “Interviewing Your Character,” and it is provided by Ann Packer. The end.
Benjamin: *shuffling cards* Okay, Kate.
Kate: Yes, Benny.
Benjamin: Oh please don’t call me Benny.
Kate: Benny, Benny, Benny.
Benjamin: Am I interviewing a five-year-old or a fifteen-year-old?
Kate: I don’t think that was one of the questions I prepped for.
Benjamin: It was rhetorical. Fine. *looks at card* What do you like to do on a winter afternoon?
Kate: Well, I used to love curling up in the chair near the window with a cup of hot coco and watch the snowflakes fall, but that was in my home. In this apartment. Eh, maybe watch a movie.
Benjamin: That’s a nice image: curled up with hot coco and watching snowflakes. Peaceful.
Kate: I can be peaceful. Are you saying I can’t be peaceful?
Benjamin: I was just being polite, jeeze. Is…is that steam coming out of your nose?
Kate: If you can see it, then it’s there. This only happens in imaginary land, though.
Benjamin: Okay….When what did you wish for when you were a child?
Kate: I wished for whatever child wishes for: a damn trip to Disneyworld.
Benjamin: I’m guessing you never got that wish.
Benjamin: What is your favorite dinner?
Kate: Chinese. Specifically, General Tsos and egg rolls. And this has to be take-out. None of that P.F. Chang’s frozen crap.
Benjamin: Do you have an attitude about everything?
Kate: That depends on how you interpret my tone.
Benjamin: What is the most painful thing a friend could say about you?
Kate: That I’m the reason my mom left, and that she never loved me to begin with.
Benjamin: Complete this sentence: “I don’t know why, but once in a restaurant I:”
Kate: Sat in someone else’s chair to fart when they were in the bathroom?
Kate: Yeah, I don’t know why I thought I could get away with that one.
Benjamin: Now complete this sentence: “My father/mother was known for:”
Kate: My mother was known for her laughter. My dad is known for wearing a tie all the time.
Benjamin: What ten things do you have in your bathroom?
Kate: 1) a comb to comb out my wet hair 2) tissues 3) a shoe to kill spiders with 4) nail clippers. I need to constantly clip my nails so I can play violin correctly. 5) my toothbrush, duh 6) an eyelash curler. My dad still doesn’t know what it does. 7) a rubber ducky, just in case I want to take a bath. 8) extra towels. I have them hidden because my dad likes to use the towels hanging up and never replaces them. 9) lotion, vanilla and lavender smelling. I heard those two smells drive boys nuts 10) tampons and all that jazz.
Benjamin: Interesting. What did you do during the most boring week of your life?
Kate: I unpacked and went to freshman orientation at my high school.
Benjamin: Finish this sentence: “I always wanted to go to fill-in-the-blank, because:”
Kate: I’ve always wanted to go to London because I want to see the London Symphony Orchestra SO BADLY!
Benjamin: Well, it’s time for me to start baking so we’ll have to finish this later.
Benjamin: Yes. Hey, I’m usually scheduled only for Fridays. I book myself the rest of the week, and right now it’s muffin time.
Last night I went to the Pittsburgh Author Symposium. It’s always nice to support local authors, and let’s be honest, I always need to get out of the house a little bit more.
The Symposium was at the local Bruster’s (no free ice cream, sorry), set up in the parking lot and a little grassy picnic area. There were a lot more people there than I expected. The brochure only listed three authors as being there, but there were at least ten local authors under the tents with their books, ready to talk to people.
Feeling a little insecure and shy–I attended alone, which is hard to do in any situation–I walked around the tables looking at the covers of books to see if any caught my eye. In the second tent, one did. The title of the book is “Put a Tent Over the Circus.” It is an autobiography of the author’s experience during The Great Depression. I have always been fascinated with The Great Depression. And this author became a foster child during that time because his mother could no longer afford to keep him.
Also, this gentleman had on a t-shirt with the local high-school logo stitched into it, and I overheard him saying that he works as head custodian and he’s worked there 40 some years now.
“Maybe you know my grandmother, then,” I added. “She was head custodian for a while, too.”
He asked me who my grandmother was.
“Mary Ellen Wilson”
“Oh! Mary Ellen Wilson. Of course I remember Mary Ellen Wilson. Let me tell you a story about Mary Ellen. A long time ago the head custodian position was up at the middle school, and Mary Ellen applied for it. There had never been a female custodian before, and I went to my boss and asked him, ‘Do you think it is wise to put a female as the head custodian?’
“My boss said, ‘Bullshit, Joe. You hired her. You trained her. If she’s not fit to be the head custodian it’s on your ass!’” Joe laughed. A younger man touched his arm and someone came to stand next to me.
“She loved that job,” I smiled.
“Yes, she did. And she was good at it!”
Joe looked at the two men that just joined us. He introduced his son-in-law to me as well as his grandson, stating how I was the granddaughter of Mary Ellen, who just recently died of cancer. I smiled politely and greeted them, knowing full well that I won’t remember their names, ever.
I couldn’t believe the first person I talked to knew my grandma. What are the chances of that?
After purchasing his book, I walked over to the presenting area where one of the authors was reading a selection from his book. The authors name is “Michel Sauret.” He is a Christian Author and is Indie Reader Approved. Sauret has quite a bit of achievements as an indie author, which you read see at onewaystreeproduction.com. It says on the cover of his short story collection that One Way Street Production did his book publishing and design. From looking through the website, Sauret is unfortunately the only author. He and his wife team-up for his publishing and her photography. How awesome and resourceful is that? Talk about DIY.
He asked me about myself. I told him I graduated last year from the Writing program at Geneva, and he automatically asked me where I attend church now. That does show his priority, and it’s a good priority. I told him where I’m attending church at the present (still don’t know if it’s going to be our home church).
The problem is that the conversation kinda ended there. I had hoped there would be a little more interest on both sides about publishing. I started to curse that I didn’t research the authors a little more before attending. Still, I’m excited to read his short story collection. He’s won some major awards. The book design is well-done, and the cover is captivating. He published his first book at age 18, self-published. Here’s a link to it: “Breathing God” by Michel Sauret. It was published by PublishAmerica, a self-publishing company. I’m now thinking about contacting him and asking if he would recommend it.
Oops, did I just give something away?
The next person I talked to actually became a networking opportunity for me. Another self-published author, who uses AuthorHouse as her publisher, wrote a novel based on her own experience as a divorcee trying to start dating again. The coffee cup and title is what caught my attention: “Time for a Fresh One,” by Lexi Michaels. Her daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend were also sitting at the able, and they were a little more interested in me and my writing, especially after I mentioned I am a struggling-YA author. They seemed intrigued and curious about my description of CURSES, which is, “It is about a girl who just graduated high school and got out of a really bad relationship spending the summer putting her life back together.”
It’s not really an artful description, but it seems to be good enough for everyone who hears it.
Lexi Michaels actually gave me her website to contact her about writing articles for one of her friends.
Hm. I didn’t expect an opportunity like that. I think I forgot to tell Chris that part of the story.
After talking a little more with her and her daughter, I wandered back over to the presenting area. On the other side of the event, a young guitarist was playing Mumford & Sons. I sat down and listened to a woman who transcribed the life of a deaf woman now in her eighties or nineties. I only caught the end of the presentation. The next presenter was, Gene Natali, who has seen a lot of success as a self-published author. His book “The Missing Semester,” gets offers from major publishing companies all the time, he told me, but they turn them down because they have enough success on their own: high schools and colleges across the country use it for required reading.
“Barnes and Noble just contacted me last week about it,” he told me.
Wow, Barnes and Noble (which does have a publishing company, by the way.)
“The Missing Semester,” is probably the most useful book I bought last night. Gene nearly gave it to me for free, but I wouldn’t allow that. I just gave him what I had. “The Missing Semester” is book about fiances geared towards Young Adults and recent College Graduates. it is based off of the authors’ own experiences with screwing up finances, and they wrote it in hopes to help other young people not make the same mistakes. It’s educational. It’s seriously aptly named.
Because, really, who really knows how to manage their own fiances anymore? I have no idea what to do with a paycheck, really, or how to save for retirement other than my 401K. This book talks about debt, purchasing cars, buying a house, ways to save, etc.
Hello? Why didn’t I know about this book sooner?
Gene’s presentation was different than the others. He knew that no one really wanted him to read from a non-fiction book about financing so he opted for a background summary and a Q&A session. In his little summary, he mentioned how he can offer advice on self-publishing because he and his co-author probably did all the mistakes you can make.
A woman behind me asked the first question, which was “What do you think is the problem with people not knowing how to handle fiances?” or something like that. She wanted to know where the original issue lies, in parents, education, the cost of education, etc.
He answered, “There are four facets that are the root of this issue. The first is lack of education. Young adults are willing to learn. If you educate them, they are enthusiastic to save and make decisions. The second is the cost of education. College costs an astronomical amount. The third is parents. Again, young adults are willing to learn and they are enthusiastic about fiances once they learn about it. In general, parents who don’t talk to their kids about fiances are not helpful. Finally, the last facet is yourself. You are you’re own issue. That is why the last line of the book is ‘Now, go do it. You’re in charge.’”
I asked the next question. I asked him what mistakes he made in self-publishing. He said that they first tried to write a book for a vast audience using only two point-of-views. They corrected that by using a panel of 25 people from different fiancial situations. He said the range was from a woman who grew up in a homeless shelter until she was 18, to CEOs of companies. Then, after getting feedback on the manuscript from them, they did a smaller panel. After that, they thought they could design their own cover. Big mistake. The cover they have now is much better than anything they could have ever done. The final mistake was that they could do things without an editor. The finally corrected that by hiring a professional Editor. Good thing they did, he said, because when the first draft came back from the editor, it was all marked up.
His session ended then, and he came up to me to talk further. He asked me what made me come to the symposium. I told him that I was an aspiring author and was encouraged by my husband to step out of my box and meet people. He then asked me about my publishing route. I said I was trying to go the traditional route and get an agent.
“Why do you want an agent?” He asked.
“Well, now-a-days, in the industry, you need an agent to get published at a publishing house.”
“Why do you want a publishing house?”
“I don’t know…prestige? As a fiction writer, it is hammered into you by professors and other writers that if you don’t get published by a publishing house, you’ve lost some credibility. Also, it’s been my dream since I was twelve.”
“Right. Let’s put it this way. Do you know how many books are published by publishing houses ever day?”
“Three-thousand. And do you know how many books the average author sells from publishing houses?”
All I could say was, “Wow.” I’ve never had numbers put in front of me before for this.
“The woman selling books next to me in the tent is published by a publishing house. I was talking to her about it. I was surprised how little she makes, being published by a publishing house. You’d expect her to be successful because she made it through. She makes two dollars off each book she sells. Now, if you self-publish, all the money comes back to you, and you can put that money back into publicizing your book. It’s your business.”
I was stunned. 150. 2 dollars a book. How can that be?
Needless to say, he made me reconsider my publishing route. When Chris got home last night, I made a deal with him:
If he can give me a marketing plan, I’ll consider self-publishing.
He smiled. Challenge Accepted.
Brought to you by “May the 4th be with you,” the silly pun that makes every cool person a star wars fan, and every real Star Wars fan a grumbler. (May 25th and May 21 are the days to really celebrate, in my opinion. If you don’t know what those are, wikipedia each Star Wars movie, seriously.)
From GIRLS WEARING MUSTACHES
Brie gasps when I tell her Eric made me a playlist.
“Dude, that is the 21st century version of the mixtape. He totally likes you and wants in your pants.”
“I thought everyone established that already.
“You always liked being reminded.”
I sigh and run my fingers through my wet hair.
“What, has that changed?”
I let the silence answer the question. She is right: normally, being reminded would give me the giggles, but there is something about this time that makes me wary to get excited about anything. And the wariness has a name. I tell Brie this and she groans.
“This better not turn into a love triangle.”
“Jess wants Eric, Eric wants you. All we need is Jess wanting you too or something.”
I think about what Jess said the night of the frozen yogurt. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. “
“I know. J.k. and all that jazz.”
I smiled. It felt good to be talking to Brie about this. “How long has it been since we’ve hung out?”
“Does talking on the phone count? Because I have a bone to pick with you about that. We haven’t talked in weeks…ever since that yogurt fiasco! I am your needy best friend and you should not make me beg for pennies so I can pay for your thoughts.”
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I’ve just been busy with this weird friendship thing happening to me and then that violin solo I’ve trying to get down.”
“You sound like a bad boyfriend on the verge of breaking up with me.” She sighs heavily and I can imagine her rolling onto her back or stomach in the neediest of a small scenery change. When I don’t respond because she’s absolutely right, she adds, “okay, baby, that was queue to tell me about this violin solo because, as I am your completely obsessed girlfriend, I need to know every important or mundane part of your life.”
“And I don’t need to know yours because I’m the negligent and immature boyfriend?”
“Nope, I just have nothing worth telling you. Your life is much more colorful than mine. If my life was a color it would be blue because I need more Kate in my life to bring the drama.”
“Do I really bring drama?”
“No, it is more attracted to you now-a-days. Now, tell me about this solo.”
“It’s super difficult with all these position shifts and triple-stops. But I think I’ve finally got it down. I have my audition next week. The only other person who has the music is this Asian kid in first.”
“Whoa, you’re not in first?”
“I didn’t feel comfortable taking someone’s established position.”
She sighs heavily again. “Oh, God. You’re not going to take the part. You’re good enough to be in state orchestras, even national ones, and you won’t take the damn solo.”
I nearly argue with her, but I stop myself. How can someone across town read anxiety so well? It might have to do with the fact that I was first chair all of junior high and passed up every solo, every opportunity to show any talent that I have. Something about being alone with no one playing if I screw up a note terrifies me more than the clown from It.
I am lame. I am so lame that if I were a robot, I would be one at could only awkwardly do the robot as a dance. I’m so lame that I can seriously run for a half an hour without needing the distraction of music. I just need my thoughts.
Well, maybe makes me a tad bit more awesome than the robot. Or just sad that I can entertain myself so easily with thoughts like,”If, as a young adult author I never have to grow up, does that mean I have to deal zits the rest of my life.” The fact that I haven’t gone an un-blemished day since I was probably 11, by the way, does not make that promising.
Why the lame-talk,you ask? My husband yesterday texted me all-supportively, “There’s an author symposium at Bruster’s on Saturday.”
The fact is that I’ve known about it for months. Sidenote: Isn’t it a little odd that Bruster’s is so active the community? I mean, this advertisement I’m looking at says you can even have tea parties and baby showers at this place. There is even a cake decorating classes at this place.
The fact that I havent looked into this event before now is that a) I don’t know what a symposium is, and b) you had to call a number to get more information, and I avoid phone calls like everyone avoids my husband avoids veggies.
Chris encouraged me to go to it because networking, meeting people, lad-de-dah. I need to get out of my comfort zone, he says. Why does he say this? Because I’m no good at g people. Seriosusly, when Chris and I met, I barely spoke a word to him. In fact, I avoided speaking to him. I’m that awkward person at a party of friends that only speaks to the person I came with.
OH DEAR LORD I’M MR. DARCY.
Anyway, I know that its a good opportunity to meet new people, authors even! But I’m on the fence about using it as a networking event. I don’t recognize any of the names (surprise, surprise), and I feel weird about going up to published authors and being all starving-artist-I-have-a-book-written-myself. I probably wouldn’t feel so lame about my limboness if I didn’t feel like everyone writes novels these days and goes up to published authors and be all “I’m totally going to be published too someday” when that is actually not a given.
Still, there might be ice cream.
Title: Fat Kid Rules the World
Author: K.L. Going
Publication Date: 2004, Speak
Reason I read it: I read K.L. Going’s non-fiction book about writing and publishing YAL novels, and she mentioned in the book that Fat Kid was about a boys introduction in to the punk world. I’m writing about someone’s introduction into the punk world as well. I wanted to see how she portrayed it.
Dust Jacket Summary: N/A (returned book again)
My Summary: N/A
While this book has some faults, it was overall a good read. The only real qualm I have about it is the portrayal of the punk scene, and some other little tid-bits all relating to punk, but I’ll get to that.
Fat Kid Rules the World begins with the fat kid, Troy, contemplating suicide down in a subway. He imagines it so thoroughly that the explosion of his guts actually makes him laugh hysterically. He’s kept from actually performing that act by a kid name Curt. Curt saves him so Troy has to buy him lunch.
Curt eventually follows Troy home and tells Troy’s dad that they are starting a band. And there begins the plot line. Curt is Troy’s first friend in a long time. And while Troy is learning more about himself, he learns some not-so-pretty tid-bits about Curt. Thus lies the tension.
As you can tell from that short and incomplete summary, the plot and character-development is pretty golden in this book. There is no character that is absolutely shallow and you don’t want to be friends with. I think part of this is accomplished by having Troy as the narrator. Knowing himself, he sees past the outward appearance of other people. When he looks at someone, he not only sees how they act now, but their history and how they developed over the years. He does this only to degrade himself, but it allows the readers to see that everyone in the story, even if they are only mentioned once, has a depth of personal experience. It allows the reader to connect with every single minor character in the story.
My favorite character is Ollie. He’s a drummer in a punk band, and he is the one that gives Troy the drumming lessons. However, he seems also to be the only one in the scene with a sense of responsibility. I honestly think he is the most genuine character in the book. For example, the first night Curt takes Troy to a punk show, everyone who came with Troy disappears, and Ollie ends up driving Troy home. It is Ollie who calls Troy to get him to stop moping about puking on the stage and realize that he is harming Curt, who doesn’t take rejection well. and it is Ollie who is there when Troy finally becomes a drummer, and there is this awesome scene where Ollie and Troy have a drumming battle (which, if you’re wondering, is not in the movie.) Read the book to meet Ollie, seriously.
Again, the plot and characters are solid. But now it’s time to hear my few qualms. Being the wife of a punk kid, who has not only watched documentaries about punk but listens to rants about it on a daily basis, I’m bound to have some qualms.
There seems to be a confusion between rock and punk and grunge in the book. Well, more of a mixture. The DIY attitude is prevalent in the book, which is an essential part to punk culture. But one of the inspirations of the book, according to the acknowledgements, is Kurt Cobain (I think that is where Curt’s name came from. Hey I use my inspiration as names, too, sometimes.). Kurt Cobain is grunge. Grunge is not punk. I don’t know how many rants I’ve heard about this. The character seems quite influenced by the grunge culture rather than the punk, I think. He dresses typically grunge, at least. I can’t exactly hear his music so I can’t make a decision about that (by the way, in the movie, it’s pretty punk-sounding rather than grunge, I think).
Curt loves the Beatles. PUNKS HATE THE BEATLES. That’s all.
Punks in the book are portrayed using the stereotypes. Punks have Mohawks, strange piercings that use safety pins, dyed hair, skinny, scrawny, bold black leather jackets…dog collars? And they act stereotypical: the first time Troy goes to a show, he gets introduced to drugs and gets drunk. They are influenced by The Clash and Sex Pistols. The band smashes their instruments on the stage, and Curt cuts himself and bleeds all over the stage. While this is the stereotype, I don’t think it’s a complete picture of punkhood.
I’d like to say, punks don’t typically smash their instruments because they are too poor to buy new ones all the time.
I do love the definition of punk the book reveals, however. Curt tells Troy he is the essence of punk at one point in the book, and forces Troy to understand that through observation. And what is the essence, the definition, of punk? The moment you see through the bullshit.
Pardon my language. But I love that.
By the way, don’t be fooled by the movie. Troy is not as obsessed with sex as the movie portrays. I was a little disappointed by that. But, if you love SLC Punk, you should check the movie out.