Frozen in Time: Rewriting Characters Created in My Teen Years

When I was a teenager I wanted desperately to go to high school. My mother began homeschooling me at the age of eleven and continued to do so until I went to college. My daydreams consisted of things like lockers, football games, and parties on beaches with concealed alcohol and forbidden kisses. The next best thing to actually going to high school was creating a character who got to go there in place of me. I wanted to write about someone who was able to do all the weird and crazy things I dreamed up while I sat in the safety of my room behind an old desktop. And so, Joycie Conwell was born.

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Joycie was my alter ego. She was everything I was with the small change that she was going to experience the highs and lows of high school and have some cute boy pine over her in ways I could only dream. I would create scene after scene of what I thought being a teenager in public school looked like – which, of course, meant I had invented some off-brand versions of CW teen dramas. Realism didn’t matter because it was fun to simply imagine life in a place where I wasn’t some socially anxious, black teen who felt trapped in the suburbs.

I shelved my novel when I moved away to college. Joycie’s life suddenly felt two-dimensional, riddled with silly hopes of a clueless teen writer. The document sat untouched for two years as I gained “life experience.” Once I walked across the stage with a newly minted degree I started looking back to the character who had gotten me through those lonelier years. She was there waiting, of course, unchanged.

Inevitably, rereading the draft after years made me cringe. My chapters were laced with bad jokes and questionable interactions between Joycie and her love interest, Lincoln. Despite the disappointing writing the story still holds a special place in my heart. I decided to not let go of it just yet.

Rewriting Joycie has been a welcomed challenge. The biggest struggle I have encountered is still keeping part of that naive voice alive when writing her. I don’t pretend to know everything. But, I’ve grown enough over the years understand how silly it is to believe you completely understand yourself as a teenager. Part of the magic of writing back then was that my voice was simple. Now, life feels more complex and I want badly to communicate that within the story.

I just pray I don’t complicate things too much because Joycie isn’t some twenty-three-year-old customer service worker who has become a little jaded about life and love. She’s a kid experiencing first love. Somehow I have to get back to that mindset. Or, at least find a happy medium.

Ever tried to go back a re-write a character you created in a different stage of your life? Got any tips for me? Also, if you’re interested in watching me struggle to rewrite Joycie’s story check it out on Wattpad. It’ll be a rough ride, but fun. I plan on documenting the writing journey on this blog as much a possible.

NaNoWriMo 2018: My Novel + Novel(la)

And so it begins. In a hurry on Monday I managed to outline both of the projects that I’m working this year. My novel is a story I’ve been picking and prodding for almost nine years … Yeah, these characters haven’t left me alone for nearly a decade. I believe I finally have to the willpower to finish their story. I’m also finally trying to manifest things into existence.

If finishing one story wasn’t challenging enough I decided to tack on another. I wanted to write a novella mostly because I think if I stick to my schedule I’ll be able to finish the novel before NaNo’s over. I already have some of the draft written. And since I’ll be in the habit of writing I want to use that momentum to start another project.

So, my ultimate goal is to finish the novel, which is called Say When. And then, at least get halfway through writing the novella, which doesn’t currently have a title yet.

What are they about?

Minimalist Photo Wattpad Book Cover(1)

Say When‘s a young adult novel about a girl who has been homeschooled all her life and now, during her junior year, her parents decide to enroll her in the local public school. It’s about mental illness, first loves, and family dynamics.

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The untitled novella is an adult romance following a young adult who plays a princess at a theme park (it’s inspired by Disney face character actors) and her prince is replaced with a guy who dumped her in high school.

Current tracker

Say When

 

If you’re doing NaNo this year I hope you’re off to a great start! And if you’re not it’s never too late to join. 50k doesn’t have to be the only goal. Honestly, it’s worth writing even a little because knowing there are so many others around the world writing at the same time makes the writing process more fun than usual.