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21 April 2007


I just read this article in The Age, and as soon as I am wearing something other than pyjamas, I'm going out to find the book.

Was there a single YA author out there who was popular at school? Like, really, capital-P Popular? I can't really imagine it. I certainly wasn't.

I mean sure, I had friends. I wasn't ostracised. Not often, anyway. But I was bullied, a little. Teased, a little more (for having hairy legs in year 7, for being a messy eater in year 8, for not having a boyfriend, for being too smart). The subject of scornful looks and eye-rolling and secret whispers - teenage girls are awful.

I had insecurities - was I pretty? would I ever grow breasts? Was everyone noticing that mole on my cheek? Why didn't boys ever ask me out?

I had crushes on boys - but if or when I actually did talk to them, they were never as articulate or dashing as they were in my fervent, book-fuelled imagination. 14 year old boys are not really articulate, full stop. They also often smell bad. No wonder then, that I found myself falling for (and in a year-long relationship with) my best friend, a girl.

I didn't kiss a boy until Year 12, and then slowly things started to change. He was older than me, so I stopped only hanging out with other schoolgirls. I went to university, and suddenly reading a lot and being eclectic and not listening to Top 40 music was cool. It was like the definition of cool had suddenly been inverted.

I still wasn't Popular, though. But that was fine. I was beginning to realise the terrible, beautiful truth: Popular people are actually a bit Boring.

Of course at my Uni, to be Popular, you had to have a certain degree of what we will call Wankery. You had to do lots of Interpretive Dance (I staged a production of The Little Prince, instead). You had to make Experimental Films (I was more interested in narrative). You had to talk a lot about theorists and theories (actually, I did really like that bit).

Now - post-Uni, at the beginning of what I am a bit scared to call a Career - for perhaps the first time in my life, I am completely proud to be who I am, and I don't feel like I need to pretend to be anything I'm not. The people who love me do so because I'm me.

The lovely Kim Wilkins says this: "Everything that made me daggy and unpopular has turned out to be a blessing", and I couldn't agree more.

Back to being a teenager. Rjurik asked me the other day why I write. I answered that if I didn't I would go crazy. And because I want to make people THINK. Afterwards, I realised what I really meant to say was that I want to make people FEEL (and then think as a side-effect).

If he'd asked why I write YA, I might have said this: To make a connection with the Unpopular ones. To let them know that they're not alone, and that it gets better.

So much better.


Penni said...

I'm writing my pink book from two p.o.v.s - one is a funny daggy smart nobody girl and one is the popular princess golden girl. Both of them are extreme versions of the different aspects of me at different times - the girl I was in year eight and nine was so vastly different from the girl I was in year twelve. (year 8 and 9 were bad bad baaaaad BAAAAAD years).

The thing is, I am now convinced those "popular" girls must have all been utterly miserable. I mean, like, on some level they MUST have known they had really really bad hair. You know, oddly sharp and brittle fringes that stuck straight up (1988 was when I was in year 8, it was like an awful bizarre confluence of badness)

I can't wait to read that book.

Penni said...

That should be ps.o.v
Or p.o.v with the plural implied.