ABOUT THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
eBook Publication Date: May 24, 2013
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The Long-term Effects of Writing
I’m not sure people realize just how much writers are affected by what they write.
I wrote this line in a piece about controversial topics in YA literature, and I decided it merited its own discussion.
First, I must say that I don’t choose my topics “willingly.” They find me, and they won’t leave me alone until I address them. This is true of all my work, fiction and nonfiction.
Recently I wrote this post on Facebook: What does it take to be a writer? Guts, sacrifice, tears. Devotion to truth on the page at the expense of a life. You can’t live effectively in two worlds at once, so when you’re in the midst of your work that IS your life.
The sacrifice is two-fold:
1.You don’t get to go out and play like everyone else (on occasions when you try, you squirm around uncomfortably all night because your characters are bursting with things for you to write down.)
2. The truth hurts.
Number two is the bigger burden. Because the truth you’re sharing on the page won’t conveniently slip away when you’ve finished the novel. No, it will haunt you always.
Writing a novel changes you. It presents ramifications you have to live with.
Specifically, let’s take THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. A sad book, for sure. One I never saw coming – I went to sleep, and the next day there it was. The questions raised in the story run deep:
How do you deal with death at such a young age?
How can you enjoy yourself at all when you or someone you love is dying?
How can you walk around when at any moment something bad might happen?
How do you handle grief?
Does love transcend death?
These are some heavy issues. I don’t claim to know the answers. I just follow the characters as they try to find their personal solutions. Then it’s up to the readers to think about everything, and form their own conclusions.
But what about the writer? Writers carry all these things in our hearts. It isn’t horrible – it’s necessary to lead us to the next story. Our journey is in our stories. And because of that, there really is no conclusion.
I’m not the same person I was before I wrote THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. This isn’t good or bad, it just is.
Are you a creator, or a messenger? At times you feel like both. But in the end what matters is that you are honest, evolving and writing.
Don’t mistake this for complaint. I’m pleased that I’m on this journey, that I can make a contribution to this world. I’m so grateful that I provide solace, and fodder for thought. The greatest gift a writer can give is contemplation. Sometimes I want to shut my mind off, so I can stop thinking about all the implications. But I’m afraid if I do, I won’t be able to start again. And then, how will I write? So I leave it be.
At best¸ I can push the thoughts to the corner like childhood memories. I do this when I’m on vacation with my kids, and when I’m reading someone else’s work. But they’re always there, pacing. Waiting.
This is what it’s like to be a writer.
ABOUT SELENE CASTROVILLA
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website www.SeleneCastrovilla.com for book excerpts and more information!